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Colorado Employment Sees Losses In Oil, Gains In Construction

courtesy Colorado Department of Labor and Employment

Halfway through the year, Colorado employment is holding steady.

According to state labor officials, Colorado added 5,000 jobs in June. The unemployment rate ticked up to 3.7 percent.

"That recent increase is mainly due to people being drawn back into the labor force due to Colorado’s relatively healthy job growth," said Ryan Gedney, an economist with the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment.

Per the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics, Colorado was one of six states [.pdf] for the month that saw "statistically significant" unemployment rate increases: Colorado (+0.4 percentage point); Nevada and Oregon (+0.3 each); and California, Maine, and South Dakota (+0.2 each). Part of the swing for Colorado was that the May 2016 unemployment rate was revised down a tenth of a percentage point to 3.3 percent.

The year hasn’t been a good one for jobs in the oil, gas and mining industry. The energy sector shed nearly 2,000 jobs in April, and has lost 7,000 jobs since employment peaked in Dec. 2014. The decline is showing signs of leveling off, however, with about 500 jobs lost in June 2016.

Other industries appear to be taking up some of the slack, especially construction. The CDLE points out that the largest job gains for the month were in construction (+2,700), along with the professional and business service, trade, transportation and utility sectors.

"There’s some data that actually does show there is movement from the oil and gas to the construction sector, and some of the skills are comparable," said Gedney. "Construction in Colorado is in a big boom right now, given the growth in population and the demand for housing -- and the current shortage we have."

That shortage is drawing a particular spotlight on construction in the state, with Lt. Gov. Donna Lynne announcing a program to help fill some of the 30,000 positions that will be needed in the next seven years.

Editor’s Note: This story has been updated with additional comment on the jobs numbers from CDLE’s Ryan Gedney.

As host of KUNC's Colorado Edition, I work closely with our producers and reporters to bring context and diverse perspectives to the important issues of the day. And because life is best when it's a balance of work and play, I love finding stories that highlight culture, music, the outdoors, and anything that makes Colorado such a great place to live.
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