Saturday marks the first day of the Labor Day holiday three-day weekend. While a relief for those who put in 9 to 5 hours at work, the holiday is a tough reminder for those unemployed — and even some who are underemployed — of the burden of no having a full-time or consistent employment.
In Colorado, like the national average, the July unemployment rate stands at 8.3 percent. The unemployment rate in Colorado, which has steadily climbed since the beginning of the year, is evidence by the importance given by the presidential candidates and their campaigns that are visibly running advertising on the issue.
One of the hardest hit industries in Colorado is construction. Employment in this industry has fallen from 117,100 in June to 116,900 in July, this according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Construction alone is not the only identifier of how well the economy is going. One can turn to white-collar employment and other blue-collar employment as indicators of the progress being made.
“The largest over the month private sector job gains were in leisure and hospitality, manufacturing, professional and business services and other services. There were no significant over the month declines,” cited a release by the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment.
“There are a lot of more full-time jobs than there were,” said a 27-year-old woman blue-collar worker who asked not to be identified. She said in the past they would offer part-time employment at “20-25 hours if you were lucky.” “More and more companies are hiring through agencies,” she said, “rather than directly through the company.”
The young woman works as a forklift driver and shipping clerk at a warehouse where solar inverters are shipped — the company has two buildings located next to one another. They manufacture and distribute in the other warehouse.
She said she would consider working a white-collar job. However, she pointed out that many of her coworkers are college graduates who are now working blue-collar because of the downward economy. She also said that some of her coworkers not only have a bachelor’s degree, but also a master’s degree. Pointing to the competitiveness of obtaining employment she said, “That’s how bad it is.”
For this blue-collar worker who makes a $1,400 monthly income, progress is key even in these difficult economic times in Colorado and elsewhere in the country. A few miles from her place of employment, an apartment complex in a renovated area in the suburbs of Denver asks for $1,075 as a starting price for a one-bedroom apartment.