Colorado on track to recover jobs lost during the recession

La Plata County slides slightly

Colorado is on pace to recover all of the jobs lost during the Great Recession by April or May of this year, according to the state economist.

If sequestration – $85 billion of automatic, across-the-board cuts from the federal budget this fiscal year – doesn’t put a strain on the national and state economies, the jobs will be recovered by April or May, said state economist Alexandra Hall during a media conference call Monday.

Hall warns the state could face harsher ramifications from the sequestration cuts than other states because of Colorado’s high number of defense employees and contractors along with a high number of federal employees.

Even if the economy slows down, the state is on target to recover the jobs by June or July, she said.

The state is coming out of the Great Recession far faster than it recovered from the end of the dot-com bubble in 2001, Hall said, and it is about fourth or fifth in the nation in terms of rate of growth.

January 2013 unemployment numbers were released Monday, and the state’s unemployment rate decreased two-tenths of a percentage point from 7.5 percent in December 2012 to 7.3 percent in January 2013.

La Plata County’s unemployment rate increased from 6.1 percent in December 2012 to 6.3 percent in January 2013.

But the January 2013 rate is a sharp decline from the 7.9 percent unemployment rate the county saw in January 2012.

An increase in total employment in the state and the number of people participating in the labor force caused the state unemployment number to decrease, Hall said.

Trade, transportation and utilities, and construction saw the greatest increase in jobs, while manufacturing showed a loss in January.

The information sector continued to decline and has not shown solid job growth since the beginning of the recession, Hall said.

One key sector that has showed strong growth is professional and business services, which economists consider a strong job growth supporter in other areas because they are typically high-skilled and well-paying positions.

Hall anticipates the unemployment rate to decrease further as more people move into the state and join the labor force.

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