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Jose Ambriz, with Thoutt Bros. Concrete Contrators Inc., works to backfill a set of stairs while doing construction on condos near the intersection of Pearl and 23rd streets Wednesday in Boulder.
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Unemployment in Boulder, Broomfield and Weld counties was down in September to 2% each, according to a report from the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment released Friday.

These are preliminary numbers and have not been seasonally adjusted. This means they don’t take into account changes that predictably happen every year, as jobs in a variety of sectors vary seasonally. For example, some teachers find a second job during the summer when they’re not in class, while others live off of any summer paycheck they might receive from the school.

Adjusted numbers take that into account, so that it doesn’t appear that there’s a significant change in the labor force at the beginnings and ends of each school year. Typically, only statewide numbers are seasonally adjusted.

Alexandra Hall, chief economist for the state’s Department of Labor and Employment, says that because no county-level data are seasonally adjusted, it’s better to compare them to the same month from the year prior, to minimize expected seasonal fluctuations. It’s also more accurate to compare county-level data to unadjusted state data.

In the year since September 2018, Boulder County unemployment dropped by almost one percentage point, from 2.9%. Broomfield County unemployment dropped by exactly one percentage point, from 3%. Weld County also dropped by one percentage point, from 3%.

Since September 2018, Boulder and Weld counties have experienced a net gain in jobs. Despite losing a few hundred in sectors like manufacturing and finance, Boulder has a net gain of 5,300 jobs. Weld has seen a net gain of 2,800 jobs. The two counties are considered Metropolitan Statistical Areas, meaning that they are analyzed in more detail.

Hall characterized both of these counties’ growth rate as a “modest pace,” which is a good thing. Right before the 2014 oil bust, she and other economists were concerned that industry difficulties would lead to a significant drop in employment in Weld County. But Greeley “held its own” and has diversified their job field in recent years, whichserves as protection against economic shock in any one industry.

Boulder’s industry breakdown has not changed dramatically in recent years, according to Hall, staying focused around “knowledge-based” jobs. However, there has been some activity in oil and gas jobs, as well as construction and a wide range of industries.

“Our economy is at a stage where there’s a lot we have to look out for,” Hall said. “There’s always something to be wary of, something that could be a negative economic influence.”

Statewide, adjusted unemployment was at 2.7%. This is down one tenth of a percentage point, from 2.8% in August. Unadjusted unemployment was at 2.2%.

The data come from two sources. One is a household survey, which all occur during a given week of the month. This survey only measures whether a household’s members are employed, unemployed and actively looking for work, or unemployed and not looking. It doesn’t pay attention to the kinds of jobs residents have, so someone who self-employs or works a so-called “gig economy” job such as driving for Lyft or Uber could still count themselves as employed. In sum, it can estimate how many people are employed.

The other source is a survey of businesses, which covers about seven times the number of households surveyed. This survey asks for the number of jobs on a company’s payroll and sums that up for the total number of jobs that exist in a given city, county or the state.

But this doesn’t always match up as a one-to-one ratio with the household survey. About 6% of Coloradans actively participating in the labor force hold multiple jobs, according to Hall.

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