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Colorado Jobless Rate Rises Despite Employment Gains

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(credit: CBS)

(credit: CBS)

DENVER (AP) - Colorado is adding jobs, but not enough to keep pace with the growing number of people looking for work again as the economy improves, the state labor department said Friday.

The unemployment rate in Colorado inched up to 9.3 percent in February from 9.1 percent in January, even though the state added 3,000 non-farm jobs over the month, the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment said.

“We’re expecting this trend to continue,” said Alexandra Hall, chief economist for the department. “We had a lot of people drop out of the labor force during the recession, around 70,000 people. That’s a lot. At the same time, we had a lot of people moving in to Colorado.

“The people who dropped out and some of the people who moved here are going to get back in and start competing for jobs as they see people getting hired,” Hall said.

The unemployment rate was 9 percent in February 2010.

Colorado now has about 2.68 million people in the labor force, including about 247,800 who are unemployed. About 7,100 people joined the labor force during February.

The construction and financial services industries lost the most jobs over the month. The biggest gains were in professional and business services; trade, transportation and utilities; and leisure and hospitality, with heavy mountain snowfall helping ski areas, Hall said.

University of Colorado senior Ben Limmer, who will graduate in May with a computer science degree, is seeing hiring in his field. He has a job lined up with a video conferencing company in Denver that will pay him just under six figures, and he had three other offers for internships or jobs on the table.

Limmer has been interested in computers since he was a kid but wasn’t convinced he should major in it in college.

“When the economic crash happened, I said, ‘Hmm, I should stay with this skill.’ Jobs are in high demand and they’re paying really well, as I’m finding out right now,” Limmer said.

The national unemployment rate dropped from 9 percent to 8.9 percent in February.

Limmer said the job he accepted was with an employer who read his Twitter posts and followed his blog.

“You don’t just have a resume anymore,” Limmer said. “You have to have a whole online presence, especially in my field.”

- By Catherine Tsai, AP Writer

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)

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