Friday, March 29, 2013

February Recovery Watch

Colorado unemployment rate drops again, reaches four-year low; state economy continues to strengthen

The most recent economic data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics show a decrease in Colorado’s unemployment rate from 7.3 percent in January 2013 to 7.2 percent in February 2013. That marks the lowest unemployment rate since February 2009 when the state’s unemployment rate was also 7.2 percent. The decline in the state’s unemployment rate is a result of improvement in the labor market. In February, more than 8,000 workers entered the labor force and the number of employed Coloradans increased by about 10,000. It appears the economic recovery may be building momentum and that real improvement is underway across the state. The national unemployment rate decreased from 7.9 percent in January 2013 to 7.7 percent in February 2013. Also, the most recent data available show continued growth in the number of people in Colorado enrolled in public assistance programs such as Medicaid, CHP+ and SNAP.

The unemployment rate in Colorado decreased for the eighth consecutive month in January. The rate fell 0.1 percentage points, from 7.3 percent in January to 7.2 percent in February. (See Figure 1.) The rate is 0.8 percentage points lower than six months prior and is a full percentage point lower than February 2012. Colorado’s unemployment rate in February 2013 was the lowest since February 2009 when the rate was also 7.2 percent. In other words, this is the lowest unemployment rate Colorado has had in the past four years. However, Colorado’s unemployment rate is still more than three percentage points higher than when the recession began in December 2007. Nationally, the unemployment rate declined from January to February moving from 7.9 percent to 7.7 percent. The national unemployment rate of 7.7 percent in February is the lowest since December of 2008 when the rate was 7.3 percent.

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In the latest edition of Colorado Recovery Watch, CCLP policy analyst Andrew Ball examines a range of data showing where the state of Colorado stands on the road to economic recovery.

Colorado Recovery Watch is a monthly snapshot of economic data, with a special focus on jobs and public-assistance programs. Read it online, along with other analysis of jobs and economic security from the Colorado Center on Law and Policy.

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