Hiring will be strongest this year in construction — the hardest-hit sector in Colorado during the economic downturn — followed by natural resources, health care and staffing agencies, economists predict.
The state should add about 42,000 jobs in 2013, but some sectors and industries will contribute much more to that growth than others, according to the University of Colorado Boulder's annual economic forecast, known as the Colorado Business Economic Outlook.
Construction accounts for 5.5 percent of nonfarm jobs in Colorado but is forecast to add 15 percent of the new jobs created next year.
"Construction is in a solid recovery mode," said Gary Horvath, a Broomfield economist.
After five years of declines, construction is expected to add to employment in Colorado this year and next, despite continued declines in building construction and heavy civil construction.
Specialty trade contractors, the jobs that cover everything from pouring foundations to painting interior walls, is where the strongest hiring is happening.
Annual employment increases among specialty contractors were running as high as 10.6 percent in July and averaged 8.3 percent a month through November.
Ben Wilcox, a superintendent with Drywallamerica.com in Steamboat Springs, said his interactions with people responding to online job postings point to a tightening market.
"They are hungry, but they are not motivated. It is the strangest thing," Wilcox said. "People are wanting to set their own hours."
Wilcox said he is already lining up contracts for the spring and may boost his hourly rate in those bids to ensure he has enough help.
Workers who in the past might have come up from Phoenix or Las Vegas are now staying busy in their home markets, and electronic verification of Social Security numbers has cut down on the available labor pool, he said.
A continued surge in domestic drilling should allow the natural-resources-and-mining sector to add a disproportionate share of jobs. But given the sector's small size, that translates into about 1,000 jobs.
Health care and educational services haven't lost jobs on a net basis during the recession or any year since and are expected to add 7,600, or 18.1 percent of the gains the Outlook has forecast.
Ambulatory-health-care services, a broad category that covers outpatient care, is adding jobs at twice the state average this year.
Health-care hiring, in particular, has been so strong for so long that some worry there could be a bubble, Horvath said.
Professional and business services should add 7,400 jobs this year, or 17.6 percent of the total, with solid hiring at holding companies, engineering and architectural firms and at firms that manage or service properties.
Temporary-employment firms, which were growing at a 10.6 percent clip in 2012 and a 9.8 percent pace in 2011, are showing the strongest gains in that sector.
"Employment services has been strong because of uncertainty in the overall economy. It is easier to bring on workers on a temporary basis than a full-time basis," Horvath said.
Even in sectors with average or lagging job growth, certain industries are expected to shine. Metal fabricators or machine shops are the stars in manufacturing, with a 7.1 percent growth rate heading into 2013.
Within the hospitality sector, a broad subgroup called other recreation and amusement industries was on track to increase employment by nearly one-fifth this year, although that pace has flattened out in recent months.
Aldo Svaldi: 303-954-1410, email@example.com or twitter.com/aldosvaldi
Where the hiring will be in 2013
Colorado economic sectors expected to show the fastest growth in hiring:Sector20132012IncreaseConstruction121,300115,0005.5%Natural resources31,70030,7003.3%Educational and health services289,100281,5002.7%Professional and business services361,000353,6002.1%
Source: Colorado Business Economic Outlook