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Colorado jobs and unemployment: Our monthly snapshot

Author: Mark Harden - November 16, 2018 - Updated: November 16, 2018

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The Colorado Department of Labor and Employment came out Friday with its latest monthly jobs report for the state, covering October. Here are the key takeaways for the state’s workers:

  • Unemployment rate: 3.2 percent, up from 3.1 percent the previous month and up from 3.0 percent a year earlier. About 3,700 more  people were unemployed than the month before.
  • Employment: Up 1,800 from the previous month, to 3,003,000 (including farm workers and the self employed).
  • Payroll jobs: Up 4,800 from the previous month, to 2,747,100 (NOT including farm workers or the self employed).
  • Private-sector payroll jobs: Up 6,100 from the previous month.
  • Government payroll jobs: Down 1,300 from the previous month.
  • Labor force participation: Up 5,500 from the previous month, to 3,101,200.
  • Average workweek for payroll jobs: 33.4 hours, down from 33.9 hours a year earlier.
  • Average hourly pay for payroll jobs: $29.22, up from $27.95 a year earlier.
  • The national unemployment rate for the month: 3.7 percent, unchanged from the previous month and down from 4.1 percent a year earlier.

Explainer: These numbers come from two different government job surveys that don’t always agree: a survey of employers (payroll jobs only) that doesn’t include self-employed people and farm workers, and a survey of households (payroll and non-payroll employment, unemployment, labor force participation) that does include those categories. In the latter survey, people with multiple jobs are counted only once.

“Unemployment” (as the government defines it) means people who don’t have a job and have applied for one in the last four weeks. “Unemployment” figures do NOT include out-of-work people who haven’t sought a job recently, or “discouraged” workers who say they want a job but haven’t applied because they don’t think one is available for them, or people working part-time who say they can’t find a full-time job, or people who aren’t seeking a job because they’re retired, or sick or disabled, or in school, or at home caring for their family.

“Labor force participation” means people with jobs plus unemployed people actively looking for a job. (Sometimes the unemployment rate rises even if employment goes up because more people are entering the labor force who previously weren’t looking for work.)

“Payroll jobs” means working for an employer except for farm workers. It does not include the self employed or certain home domestic workers.

Mark Harden

Mark Harden

Mark Harden is managing editor of Colorado Politics. He previously was news director at the Denver Business Journal; city editor, online news editor, state editor, national editor and popular music critic at The Denver Post; and an editor and reporter at newspapers in the Seattle area and San Francisco.