The Colorado Center on Law and Policy reported Wednesday that while the state's unemployment rate still hovers at the 8 percent mark, there is reason for optimism when studying the state's labor numbers.
Colorado’s labor force experienced a sharp increase in November: More than 17,000 workers joined the labor force since October. The large number of people returning to search for work is a positive indicator of economic recovery. Still, the labor force today is significantly smaller than it was at the start of the recession. There are about 38,000 fewer active workers in the labor force today than there was when the labor force peaked in March 2009.
Later in the report, the researchers seem to have taken a stride similar to the one taken by our state representatives: We have a fragile recovery underway, and it would be best for government to do all it can to nurture it and not to mess it up.
Colorado's jobs deficit, or the difference between the number of jobs Colorado has and the number it needs to regain its pre-recession employment rate, is 258,400. That number reflects the recent employment data combined with the 155,600 jobs it needs to keep up with a 6.6 percent growth in working-age population in the 47 months since the recession began.5 (Figures 7-8) While Colorado has shown steady sign of economic improvement and stabilization in 2011, the state has not recovered from the Great Recession. As elected officials at the state and federal levels make policy choices to deal with budget shortfalls, they should avoid decisions that threaten to throw a very tentative recovery into reverse. Putting workers back to work needs to be the primary goal for lawmakers.