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DENVER-Colorado gained 2,200 construction jobs in March, according to the latest employment report for the state.The increase equaled seasonal expectations.

Despite the gain, employment in the building trades industry has decreased by 5,000 from a year ago, according to Jeff Wells, Executive Director of the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment. The construction sector remains supported by low interest rates and a still positive, although reduced rate of population growth.

The leisure and hospitality division increased 2,100 over the month. Food services and drinking establishments were up 2,800, accounting for the entire increase and more than offsetting smaller losses in the accommodations subgroup. Overall, leisure and hospitality remain one of the brighter spots in the state’s labor market, adding 8,100 jobs over the past twelve months.

Job losses were greatest in trade, transportation, and utilities in March. The sector declined 3,400 with retail trade off 2,300 and air and truck transportation each falling 300.

Overall, labor market conditions in Colorado remained lackluster in March as the state’s seasonally adjusted jobless rate edged up two-tenths of a percentage point to 5.7%, according to Wells. “Because the monthly rate can be somewhat volatile the increase does not necessarily signal a trend toward higher unemployment rates,” says Wells. “Indeed, over the past year the jobless rate has remained quite stable, varying between 5.5% and 5.8%.”

A year ago the unemployment rate registered 5.8%. After increasing the past two months, the seasonally adjusted estimate of Colorado jobholders eased 9,100 over the month to 2,315,600. Total resident employment has risen 27,300 since last March.

Unemployment, meanwhile, increased by 5,100 to 140,400. The number of persons unsuccessfully looking for work has fallen by about 1,000 from a year ago. Estimates of both resident employment and unemployment are derived from a monthly survey of Colorado households.

The separate monthly survey of Colorado businesses showed a 5,000 increase in the number of nonfarm wage and salary jobs during March. However, the monthly gain was smaller than usual for the February-March period with eight sectors adding workers and three trimming jobs. At 2,158,400, nonagricultural wage and salary payrolls are 12,900 or 0.6% percent lower than the year ago level.

Most new jobs during the month came in the professional and business services sector, up 2,700. The administrative and support services category saw the bulk of the gains as employment expanded 2,200. This is good news for the office market. But despite the monthly increase, employment in the sector is 12,700 or 4.4% lower than a year ago. Low levels of industrial capacity utilization and sluggish levels of business investment continue to affect the state’s manufacturing division, bad news for the industrial market. At 156,700, the sector was down 1,500 in March and 11,100 or 6.6% from a year ago.

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