Some good news in the latest unemployment report

According to the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment the state’s unemployment rate was 7.9 percent in December, a 1 percentage point drop from a year ago. The US rate stands at 8.5 percent. Over the past 12 months the state added about 24,000 jobs and the number of people unemployed has decline about 17,000.

Of the state’s bigger regions, Boulder-Longmont had the lowest unemployment rate (5.8%), while Pueblo had the highest (9.8%).

This is good news. It is not great news.

The state’s employment totals grew about 1 percent last year, a rate insufficient to make a serious dent in the labor market struggles. The state still has 100,000 fewer jobs than it did in December 2007, the start of the Great Recession.

Health care and education continue to lead the recovery, and the tourism sector is starting to rebound. Manufacturing employment is also doing surprisingly well in some areas of the state.

For policy makers, it is too early to declare victory. Housing market troubles persist, and Colorado Springs, Greeley and Grand Junction continue to struggle with unemployment rates well above average.

In 2012 the economy is expected to continue growing, but putting people back to work in good paying jobs remains an unmet challenge.

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