It’s “an employee’s job market” in Colorado right now

Now is a good time for many unhappy workers in Colorado to figuratively say, “Take this job and shove it.”

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Colorado Unemployment Rate (May 1990 – May 2016)
Now is a good time for many unhappy workers in Colorado to figuratively say, “Take this job and shove it.”

The state’s low unemployment rate means companies are competing harder to find or steal qualified workers. The need for skilled workers is so great that the state’s economy may be suffering.

“… Tight labor market conditions are making it more difficult for businesses to grow, acting as a constraint on the state’s economy,” according to a quarterly economic forecast released by the governor’s office Monday.

Colorado’s economy is performing solidly overall, but businesses will likely add jobs slower than in past years, the forecast states.

To fill positions some employers are being forced to offer higher pay, signing bonuses and other perks to grow their payroll, said Judi Kent Gervasini, owner of Denver-based J. Kent Staffing.

Colorado overall is still waiting to see a significant uptick in wage growth, said Laura Argys, professor of economics at the University of Colorado Denver.

In 2015, the average weekly wage in Colorado was $1,042 — only up $28 or 3 percent from 2014, according to federal data.

The link between wage growth and a tight labor market may not be as strong at is has been in the past, Argys said.

“It’s not always about a higher salary. People are changing jobs for all kinds of reasons,” Kent Gervasini said. Some are looking for places with different corporate cultures. Others seek shorter commutes or flexible work hours.

Right now, it’s “an employee’s job market,” said Brian Lewandowski, associate director of the University of Colorado Boulder’s Business Research Division.

“Having more workers move here isn’t really a great solution,” Lewandowski said. The state is already adding more than 100,000 people a year.

To meet growth demands, the state might see more businesses head to where the workers are.

“I don’t think companies will leave the state necessarily, but they may grow their operations outside of the metro area,” Lewandowski said.

Business & data reporter Adrian D. Garcia can be reached via email at agarcia@denverite.com or twitter.com/adriandgarcia.

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