The number of Coloradans in the labor force has fallen significantly for several key groups according to the National Labor Force Participation Rate report from our friends at The Liberty Foundation. To download just the Colorado report, click here.
The report analyzes the employment percentage of each demographic in Colorado’s labor force, revealing staggering participation losses, often within the last half decade.
Coloradans saw the number of those active in the labor force dip 4 percent overall – from 72.1 to 68.1 percent – from 2008 to 2013. But the broad numbers disguise the decline across many demographic subsections.
In 2008, on the cusp of the recession, the labor force percentage for Hispanics stood at 71.9 percent, dropping to 67.7 percent by 2013. But while the percentage remained relatively flat for Hispanic women (near 60 percent), Hispanic men saw a decline by nearly 9 points - from 84 to 75 percent.
African-American labor force rates declined 2.5 points over the same time span, but the decline for men outstripped the overall decline, from 75 percent to just below 70 percent.
Colorado women saw their numbers shrink as well. Even as most of the age groups for women saw relative stability, the number of women aged 20-24 in the labor pool slipped more than 5 percent.
The data reveals Colorado’s employment problems are neither racist nor sexist. In fact, men have been plagued with reduced labor participation rates as well. While their older male counterparts have seen employment tick back up slightly, the bottom has fallen out for young males. In 2001, teen male employment stood at nearly 62 percent. In 2008, the rate dropped to 45 percent. Today? Just 35.6 percent of males between ages 16-19 participate in the labor force – nearly half what it was in 2001.
Here’s where the unemployment rate of each group stands, looking at the 5 year period ending in 2013. Overall, the unemployment rate grew from 4.8 percent to 6.6 percent. Hispanics saw the largest jump, more than 3 percent, with women and then men trailing with unemployment increases.
Cato’s 2014 “Fiscal Policy Report Card on America’s Governors” gave incumbent Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper an “F” – second from last -as they dinged the Democrat for “ballooned” general fund spending. You can read my blog post about Hick’s failing grade here.
According to the report, spending would increase 28 percent from $7.2 billion in 2012 to $9.2 billion in 2015, an average of 6 percent each year. Cato noted that the billion dollar Hickenlooper-backed Amendment 66 tax increase that would have increased Colorado’s income tax from a flat 4.63 percent to an onerous, two-tiered rate of 5.0 and 5.9 percent, was “soundly rejected by voters” at a 2-to-1 margin. Thank goodness.