Denver’s real unemployment rate mirrors Colorado’s


THE TRUTH HURTS: Denver’s real unemployment rate, like Colorado’, is much higher than the official published figured would indicate.

By Joshua Sharf |

You can already hear Denver City Council candidates touting the city’s reported 4.2 percent unemployment rate in their campaigns.

If only it were so.

We’ve been keeping track of Colorado’s real unemployment rate, adjusting for the state’s increasing population and decreasing labor force participation rate.

The situation is even more disconnected in Denver.

Employment statistics come from the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment , and the population estimates come from the U.S. Census Bureau.

First, here’s the nominal unemployment rate of Denver, as reported in most of the media:

Looks pretty good.

Denver has been on a nice, downward trajectory since early 2010, and we’re almost back to pre-recesssion levels. (Note: seasonally-adjusted numbers for Denver are not available through the CDLE site, which is why the seasonality is so evident here, and so absent in the Colorado charts.)

Unfortunately, as with the state as a whole, the number of jobs hasn’t kept pace with the population growth:

Since the previous peak of employment, in 2008, Denver has 15,000 more jobs, but around 90,000 more people. So why is the unemployment rate down? Because a smaller percentage of the population considers itself part of the labor force:

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