Monday, February 8, 2016

Job growth flatlines in Pueblo and Grand Junction

Although job growth has slowed in Colorado, the year-over-year change is still positive. That is, new jobs are still being created, according to the Establishment survey. The situation is a bit different in Grand Junction and Pueblo, however, where the latest Establishment employment survey shows that in December, total payroll employment actually went down, year over year.

Practically speaking, though, jobs were simply flat in both cases. In Grand Junction, for example, payroll employment was flat at 62,000 jobs with no change to speak of from December 2014 to December 2015. We do see a general trend of decline since early 2014:

In Grand Junction, payroll employment growth hit 3.2 percent (a gain of nearly 2,000 jobs) back in March of 2014, but it's been declining since, and has been flat over the past four months. In fact, total employment in Grand Junction hasn't much budged from the 62,000 jobs mark for the past six months. 

In Pueblo, payroll employment was also essentially flat at 61,000 jobs in December. Employment growth had reached 3.9 percent (a gain of more than 2,000 jobs) in February of 2015, but has been falling since (this is YOY change):

The employment situation in GJ and Pueblo reminds us that the happy economic data we've been hearing about Colorado for the past couple of years has largely been driven by developments in northern Colorado and the metro Denver area. Oil employment in northern Colorado has helped push up overall job growth in the state, but southern and western Colorado have different experiences.

Historically, at least over the past 30 years, Pueblo has tended to have weaker  job growth than metro Denver and the state overall.

It's harder to generalize about Grand Junction, however, as GJ experienced enormous booms in the late 70s/early 80s, and also again from 2006 to 2008. GJ has seen lackluster growth ever since the 2008 financial crisis, however, and has in some ways not shared in the benefits of the expansion that has occurred in Colorado and the US since 2010.

(All data from the "Establishment Survey" which measures payroll employment for larger employers. This measure counts, jobs, not employed persons.)