By Jan Wondra
Here in the Denver south, where unemployment has dipped to 3 percent, considered by experts to be “full employment”, the news that 2015 job growth was much higher than first thought should come as no surprise. Preliminary data released by the Metro Denver Economic Development Corporation throughout 2015 had indicated a 2.7 percent employment growth rate. The revised statistics show that employment increased at a much higher pace of 3.5 percent.
Translated to actual jobs, this means that 2015 employment in the metro Denver area increased by 53,100 jobs. That’s 12,000 more jobs that the 41,100 jobs documented in the preliminary data. That might not sound like much, but if you’re one of the 12,000 it means a lot.
“We’ve had upward adjustments to our annual employment each of the past three years,” said Patty Silverstein, chief economist for the Metro Denver EDC. “This robust growth certainly shows the strength and momentum of the regional economy.”
The revised employment data revealed that all 11 economic “super-sectors” added jobs from 2014 to 2015. The strongest rate of growth was in the natural resources and construction super-sector, which posted a 5.1 percent increase and added 4,900 jobs in 2015. Health increases were also apparent in the professional and business services super-sector, which added 9,600 jobs. Jobs in education and health services increased by 8,800 positions. The smallest increase, in both percentage and absolute terms, occurred in the information sector, but it had previously been recorded as losing jobs in 2015.
According to Silverstein, the region’s unemployment rate officially fell 1.5 percentage points year-over-year in January to 3 percent. All seven metro counties reported declines between January 2015 and 2016, ranging from 1.2 percentage points in Douglas County to 1.8 percentage points in Adams County.