Strong Entertainment Hiring Leads to Solid Job Gains

Strong arts, entertainment and recreation hiring helped drive a net gain of 14,600 non-farm jobs in the state last month, according to a Friday update from the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment. .

The CDLE also reported that the state’s seasonally-adjusted unemployment rate, which has topped the US rate since October of last year, now matches the 3.6%.

“I continue to be amazed by the economic momentum, given inflation, supply chain disruptions and labor shortages – not to mention the latest national headwind, interest rate hikes. ‘interest. Political headwinds seem to be just as annoying, but less of a problem,” Broomfield economist Gary Horvath said in an email discussing the April jobs report.

Of the non-farm jobs created between March and April in Colorado, about 5,800, or four in 10, came from arts, entertainment and recreation alone. This is remarkable considering that the sector only accounts for 1.9% of overall employment in the state. It’s not entirely clear what’s behind this increase in hiring, and the big gain likely won’t hold up after employers release more payroll information.

“It’s an outlier and likely due to a downgrade. We may not know the whole story,” CDLE senior labor economist Ryan Gedney said in a conference call Friday morning.

Arts, entertainment and recreation employment in Colorado was 60,000 in January 2020 before the pandemic hit. That number plunged to 24,400 in April, making the area one of the most devastated by shutdowns and other limitations on public gatherings. Last month’s tally of 59,800 jobs, if any, puts the sector less than 200 jobs from what it was at the start of 2020.

Strong hiring was also reported in trade, transportation and utilities, up 3,200 jobs last month; professional and business services, up 3,000 jobs, and construction, up 1,900 jobs. Manufacturing, government, other services and financial activities recorded small losses for the month.

Gedney noted that the state recovered 108% of the jobs lost in the first months of the pandemic, marking the 12th fastest recovery of any state. Nationally, about 95% of the jobs lost in the spring of 2020 have been recovered. Led by Grand Junction and Colorado Springs, all metro areas in the state have recovered jobs lost during the pandemic, with one exception. The re-employment rate in the Greeley metro area, including all of Weld County, is 56%.