Colorado's unemployment rate continued downward in December, decreasing to 7.6 percent from November's 7.7 percent, according to a Colorado Department of Labor and Employment report released Friday.

However, the state lost 2,400 nonfarm payroll jobs from November to December to 2,316,500 jobs, according to the survey of business establishments. Private sector payroll jobs decreased 2,500 and government increased 100.

The 7.6 percent unemployment rate was lower than the national rate of 7.8 percent recorded in December.

The decrease in unemployment was caused by a larger increase in the number of people reporting their status as employed than in the number of people actively participating in the labor force.

The state's unemployment rate in 2012 hit a high of 8.3 percent in July but has continued down from there, measuring 8.2 percent in August; 8.0 in September; 7.9 in October and 7.7 in November.

Over the year, between December 2011 to December 2012, nonfarm payroll jobs increased 51,300 . Private sector payroll jobs increased 47,600 and government increased 3,700 .

The largest private sector gains in 2012 were in professional and business services, education and health services, and leisure and hospitality.

The only sector that declined in 2012 was information.

In December 2011, the unemployment rate was 7.9 percent, meaning the unemployment rate declined three-tenths of one percentage point between December 2011 and December 2012.


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During the year, the number of Coloradans participating in the labor force decreased 8,100, total employment decreased 1,200 and the number of unemployed decreased 6,900 .

Nonfarm payroll job estimates are based on a survey of business establishments and government agencies, and are intended to measure the number of jobs, not the number of people employed.

The unemployment rate, labor force, labor force participation, total employment and the number of unemployed are based on a survey of households. The total employment estimate derived from this survey is intended to measure the number of people employed.

Howard Pankratz: 303-954-1939, hpankratz@denverpost.com or twitter.com/howardpankratz