AAron Ontiveroz, The Denver Post
After spiking in February, job growth in Colorado returned to a more sustainable pace in March. Unemployment remained locked in at a low 3 percent for the seventh month in a row, and wage gains outpaced inflation.
“The economy of Colorado and most other states seem to be on cruise control, growth is occurring at a steady level. Growth that is not too fast and not too slow is the dream of every economist and public policymaker,” said Gary Horvath, a Broomfield economist.
Colorado employers added 5,400 nonfarm jobs in March from February, down from the 9,200 jobs added in February from January, according to a monthly update Friday from the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment.
But February’s outsized gain, the fastest the state has seen since February 2012, was way ahead of the 12-month average of 5,200 jobs added, said Ryan Gedney, senior economist with the department.
“Mild and dry winters are a contributing factor to the strong job growth we have seen over the past two Februaries, especially for seasonal industries like construction,” Gedney said.
Construction added a tamer 200 jobs last month, but over the year, it had the second-largest percentage gain in employment, 6.7 percent, second only to mining and logging, at 11.7 percent.
Trade, transportation and utilities added 2,500 jobs in March, making it the leader among sectors. That sector includes retailers, who are under pressure from rising online sales by Amazon and others and shutting down locations. But the move to more online sales is boosting demand for warehouse workers, who are included.
The report showed continued gains in pay, with the average weekly wage rising from $27.26 an hour in March 2017 to $28.38 last month. Over the year, the average workweek for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls increased to 33.4 hours from 32.9.
Gedney is projecting that wage gains will top 4 percent in 2017, once the final numbers come in. That would represent the strongest gains since 2006 and 2007.