Phil's Thoughts

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Why Colorado’s Unemployment Rate Continues to Drop

Colorado's unemployment rate fell to 6.9 percent in April, two-tenths of a percentage point from March, according to the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment.

This is the lowest Colorado's unemployment has been since January 2009 and is just 800 payroll jobs under the state's May 2008 peak.

A direct correlation to the drop in our unemployment rate can be seen in the numbers of jobs available in the Metro Denver region. On his job listing website, Metro Denver E-Force Digital Agent Andrew Hudson notes that "companies big and small are growing their ranks and the number of jobs and the quality of positions continues to improve."

I've often said that Colorado would be one of the last states to enter the recession and one of the first states to exit.

And while the latest job numbers prove that premise, I want to share with you the reasons why our regional and state economy continues to outperform many aeas of the country.

  1. Metro Denver has a diversified economy: Since the 1980s oil bust, our region has made a conscious effort to diversify into more industries than just oil. The data from our 2013 Industry Cluster proves that this was a wise decision. All but one of our eight industry clusters showed growth in fiscal year 2012.
  2. Colorado has a highly educated workforce: Of Colorado's adult population, more than 36 percent have a bachelor's degree or higher, making Colorado the third-most highly educated state in the country after Massachusetts and Maryland. Smart people tend to find smart solutions to any problem, which is what we saw happen here. People didn't let the recession get them down, but became resourceful on how we could get out of it quickly.  
  3. People want to live here: We've often highlighted how Metro Denver was the number one region for relocating adults ages 25-34. People choosing a place for quality of life instead of a job position is quite a different trend from when I first started in economic development, when people moved to a place because their job brought them there. 
  4. Companies are choosing Metro Denver: Building off of my previous point, we have the right people, the right business costs and a great playground in our backyard. Company executives recognize this and want to be in our state. In the past month alone, eight companies announced expansion or relocation plans in Metro Denver. 
  5. Entrepreneurs thrive here: Metro Denver is often touted for its highly entrepreneurial community. Most recently, the Business Journals ranked Metro Denver third of 102 U.S. markets for entrepreneurial activity. This is a big jump from three years ago, when Denver wasn't even featured in the top 10 for most small-business rankings.

Given that the national economic outlook shows that the United States is still in a slow growth track since the recession, I only hope that what's happening in Metro Denver gives some inspiration that our nation will come out of this recession stronger and better than ever.

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About Phil Kalin

Phil Kalin joined Pinnacol Assurance as CEO in 2013. He has served as the chief executive of both public and privately-backed companies, including large hospital systems, as well as organizations focused on health care data, technology and education. He has been active nationally on health care topics related to insurance, data analytics, technology innovation, cost improvement and risk mitigation. Phil is providing an informed opinion on what we see in the Monthly Economic Indicators.

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About Pinnacol

Pinnacol Assurance is the Metro Denver EDC's Research Sponsor. Pinnacol is Colorado’s leading provider of workers’ compensation insurance. Pinnacol provides comprehensive, competitively priced coverage; immediate attention to claims; a highly qualified network of medical providers; and proactive safety programs to more than 55,000 Colorado businesses. Annually, Pinnacol supports nearly $500 million of Colorado’s economic activity, spends over 35,000 hours keeping Colorado worksites safe and provides compassionate care to over 40,000 Coloradans injured on the job.

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