Job growth in Weld County topped the state in September, helping drive down the unemployment rate.
Weld County jobs grew 4.3 percent from August to September, while the unemployment rate fell to 7.9 percent. The numbers are derived from establishment and household surveys and reported by the state Department of Labor and Employment on Friday.
“Weld is growing faster than the state, which makes perfect sense because your economy is becoming more diversified, plus the additional manufacturing capabilities, and changes being made in agriculture,” said Joe Winter, senior economist with the state Department of Labor and Employment. “You’ve got more dynamic reasons for movement.”
Weld’s performance in job growth, which also for the year was at 4.3 percent, is followed by Grand Junction, where job growth grew 4.1 percent over the year. Statewide, the number of jobs grew by 1.6 percent.
Throughout 2011, job growth stayed flat in Weld County, otherwise known as the Greeley Metropolitan Statistical Area. But the job numbers have slowly put on weight since January, bolstered by additions in oil and gas industry, as well as Leprino Foods ramping up its operations and call centers relocating to Greeley, offering jobs by the hundreds.
Job numbers are reported by establishments, and do not necessarily measure the number of people employed, the state warns.
Area staffing agency representatives say this has been a vigorous year.
“We’ve been just extremely busy all year and we’ve seen a steady increase for all types of job since the beginning of the year,” said Shannon Jantz, branch manager with Apple One, 2914 67th Ave., Greeley.
After a flat 2011, job growth bounced around by the hundreds every month of the year in Weld, even dropping by 100 in August. But Weld County rang in September with an extra 1,500 jobs.
“September has been an unusually good month,” Winter said. “I believe September is more indicative of what’s going on than some of the other (lower-growth) months.
“In a way, I am excited because the numbers are starting to look like I think they should,” Winter said. “I’d been wondering what I was missing because the numbers seemed sluggish. But it takes a while for samples to catch up to reality.”
At the same time, Weld’s unemployment rate dipped five-tenths of a percentage point in September, compared to 8.4 percent in August. The rate has fallen almost a full percentage point from the same time last year, when it was at 8.8 percent.
“The story is consistent with both” numbers, Winter said.
Some have argued that the unemployment rate drops because people have given up hope and dropped out of the race to find a job.
Winter said that isn’t the case in Weld, where the labor force (which measures the number of employed people within Weld, regardless of where they work), and employment, (which measures the number of employed within the county), are both growing.
“When people drop out, you can see it in the umbers because the labor force number goes down,” Winter said.
Weld’s labor force has increased 2.3 percent since the same time last year, and employment has increased 3.3 percent in that time, according to the state umbers.
The Fort Collins-Loveland numbers have improved, as well. Its unemployment rate fell to 5.8 percent from 6.3 percent the year before; employment increased 1.8 percent; and its labor force grew 1.3 percent.
The survey of households showed the statewide unemployment rate had decreased two-tenths of one percentage point over the month to 8 percent, according to a news release.
According to the release, “The decrease was caused by a larger increase in the number of people reporting their status as employed than the increase in those actively participating in the labor force.”
Nationwide, unemployment sank to 7.8 percent, a three-tenths of a percentage point decrease from the same time last year.