fbpx
Share

DownloadsSeptember 24th Update: PDF


The impacts of COVID-19 have disproportionately impacted some parts of our economy more than others. While the impacts on employment are most often highlighted, this brief summarizes the impacts on different groups within the state’s labor force.

The following series of charts show the impacts of policies in response to COVID-19 on the Colorado labor force from February through August 2020. February is included to reflect the month prior to the start of the pandemic. The monthly data are collected and reported by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) and the Integrated Public Use Microdata Series – Consumer Population Survey (IPUMS – CPS) which is further broken down by: Gender, Age, Educational Attainment, and Both Genders With and Without Kids.

Key Findings and Trends:

Colorado Labor Force

  • The statewide labor force participation rate (LFPR) in August was 66.7%, which is still 2.3 percentage points below the February pre-pandemic level of 69%. The LFPR fell to a low 66.2% of in May(Figure 1).
  • The LFPR for women with kids has decreased 6 percentage points from February to August, whereas the LFPR for women without kids has increased 6%. In total since February, 6,800 women without kids have entered the labor force, and 30,200 women with kids have left the labor force.
  • Compared to the national level, the Colorado’s female LFPR fell significantly more during the early months of the pandemic. However, as of August both the national female LFPR and the Colorado female LFPR were 1 percentage point below their respective February levels.  (Figures 3 and 5).
  • The LFPR for men with kids decreased by 3.7 percentage points from July to August. However, their LFPR has remained consistently higher than women with kids, remaining 18 percentage points higher in August at 91.1% (Figure 13).
  • The data suggests when comparing February to August, in Colorado, 89,823 men have left the labor force and 23,359 females have left the labor force. However, there are still 193,165 more men than women in the labor force according to August numbers (Figures 1 and 3).

Colorado Unemployment Rate and Jobs

  • In 2020, the Colorado unemployment rate (UE) peaked in June at 11%. Since then it has been trending down, and as of August it stood at 7% (Figure 2).
  • The August male UE rate is up from last month to 7.64% whereas the female overall UE rate dropped to 6.52% (Figure 4).
  • The total number of jobs in Colorado in August climbed 1 percentage point to 94% of the level of jobs in February. Only manufacturing jobs have returned to their pre-pandemic level.

List of Report Figures and Charts

COLORADO’S LABOR FORCE SIX MONTHS INTO COVID-19_FINAL

Figure 1 – Colorado Labor Force Participation Rate

Figure 2 – Colorado Unemployment Rate

Figure 3 – Labor Force Participation by Gender

Figure 4 – Unemployment Rate by Gender

Figure 5 – National Labor Force Participation Rate by Gender

Figure 6 – National Unemployment Rate by Gender

Figures 7 & 8 – Male Labor Force Participation Rate and Unemployment Rate by Age

Figure 9 & 10 – Female Labor Force Participation Rate by Age and Unemployment Rate by Age

Figure 11 & 12 – Labor Force Participation Rate and Unemployment Rate by Educational Attainment Level

Figure 13 – Labor Force Participation Rate and Unemployment by Gender, With and Without Kids

The pandemic has shown us that Colorado’s women with kids have been disproportionately impacted by COVID-19. The graph above displays that men and women without kids have re-bounded above pre-pandemic lows, and men with kids have seen a decrease but are still at an extremely higher labor force rate compared to women. While there has been a 4% decrease for men with kids from July to August, their LFPR remains at 91%, which is 18% higher than the rate for women. Women with kids are still six percentage points below February numbers.

The share of women with kids in the labor force has decreased 6% from February to August, whereas the share of women without kids has increased 6%. In total since February, 6,800 women without kids have entered the labor force, and 30,200 women with kids have left the labor force. 3.7% of women of color with kids have left the labor force, compared to the 3% without kids who have entered.

According to a 2019 release from the BLS, employed fathers are more likely to work full-time than employed mothers; 96.2 percent of employed fathers worked full-time, compared with only 78.5 percent of employed mothers.i. This could mean that in the midst of the current pandemic, which has caused a large loss of employment and the closure of in-person schooling, women who work part- time and have children have left the labor force rather than continue to work or seek a new job.

Figure 14, 15 and 16 – Change in Employment in Colorado

Figure 17 – Average Weekly Earnings By Gender


Figure 17 shows the average weekly earnings by gender. From April through June, there was a significant spike in women’s earnings as a percent of male earnings. This is likely driven by a combination of the fact that low-wage jobs were disproportionatly impacted during the stay-at-home orders and because a large number of women who left the labor force likely worked part-time, and therefore also had a lower weekly wage.


i. https://www.bls.gov/news.release/pdf/famee.pdf

DownloadsAugust 25th Update: PDF


The impacts of COVID-19 have disproportionately impacted some parts of our economy more than others. While the impacts on employment are most often highlighted, this brief summarizes the impacts on different groups within the state’s labor force.

The following series of charts show the impacts of policies in response to COVID-19 on the Colorado labor force from February through July 2020. February is included to reflect the month prior to the start of the pandemic. The monthly data collected and reported by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) is broken down by: Gender, Age, and Educational Attainment.

Key Findings and Trends:

Colorado Labor Force

      • Despite three months of consecutive job gains, statewide labor force participation rate (LFPR) took a sharp downward turn in Colorado during July after seeing two months of increases (Figure 1). The US LFPR showed a similar reversal in July, though not as sharp.
      • This release includes a new chart that provides additional evidence that women, and particularly women with children, are being disproportionately impacted. The LFPR for women with kids fell from 79.8% to 71.8% from February to July in Colorado. The LFPR for women without kids is only one percentage point below its February level, after recovering from the May low of 66.28%. The groups of men with kids and men without kids, both have higher LFPR’s in July than they did in February (Figure 13). This could be evidence that the costs associated with childcare, averaging $15,325 annually in the US[1], along with parental demands of remote learning in schools, are influencing more mothers to remove themselves from the labor force.
      • The LFPR for those with an education attainment of a high school degree or lower is 6 percentage points lower than its February level. This group remains further from its February peak than those with higher forms of education (Figure 11).

Colorado Unemployment Rate and Jobs

      • The unemployment rate in Colorado stands at 7.4%, which is well below the previous April high of 12.2% (Figure 2). While this is encouraging, the large decline in the rate in July was primarily driven by the large drop in the labor force participation rate, rather than the growth in jobs. If the LFPR rate in July, would have been the same as it was in February, then the current unemployment rate would be 11.15%, nearly 4 percentage points higher than the current official rate.
      • 50% of all private sector jobs that were lost from February to April have returned. However, government employment, which generally lags in reflecting the effects of a recession, continues to decline. In July government employment suffered the worse reduction since the start of the pandemic, due to a reduction of 17,000 state jobs. Therefore, while private sector employment increase by 23,000 jobs in July, the net increase in total non-farm jobs was 6,200 (Figure 16).
      • The drop was from February’s LFPR of 63% to July’s LFPR of 57.7% resulted in 123,572 women dropping out of the labor force and not currently looking for work.
      • Men saw a slight decrease in their LFPR from February’s 75.94%  to July’s 74.17% with a total of 40,124 men dropping out of the labor force.

1 https://www.epi.org/child-care-costs-in-the-united-states/

DownloadsJuly 31st Update: PDF


The impacts of COVID-19 have disproportionately impacted some parts of our economy more than others. Restaurants, cafes, large event venues, hotels, and other recreational activities have been severely impacted, with job losses that remain over 20%. This stands in contrast to the information and manufacturing sectors which are just 2% below their February level of employment.

Key Findings:

      • Overall labor force participation increased in June, from 66.6% to 68.7%.
      • The jump in overall labor force participation was driven by a substantial increase in participation from women under the age of 35, from 68.1% to 74.11%.
      • Coloradans with some college or an associate degree, saw an increase in unemployment by 5.42%, despite seeing a decline in labor force participation of 1.63%.
      • The June jobs report for Colorado indicated 55,000 jobs were added in June.
      • Nationally labor force participation rate for women in June remain as low as the 1980s. The LFPR for women peaked in 2009 and never fully rebounded post-recession.

DownloadsJuly 6th Update: PDF


The impacts of COVID-19 have not been equally felt across the labor market and certain business models have been disrupted significantly more than others. As expected, restaurants, large event venues, hotels and other personal services have been severely impacted.

This range in impacts across industries, is also reflected in changes across different groups within the labor market. Women and those with education levels lower than a college degree have been disproportionately negatively impacted.

The following series of charts show the impacts of COVID-19 on the Colorado labor force between February and May 2020, reflecting the month prior to the start of the pandemic and the latest available monthly data broken down into: Gender, Age, and Educational Attainment.

Key Findings:

      • From February 2020 to May 2020, 267,000 Coloradans dropped out of the labor force, as the labor force participation rate dropped from 69.4% to 63.6%. This includes 88,000 men and 179,000 women.
      • One of the largest drops in the labor force was seen in women over the age of 35, with this group experiencing a decline of nearly 8% participation dropping from 63% to 55.3%. This is more than double the decline in the same age category for men.
      • The drop in the female LFPR, from 63% to 55% suggests that 178,700 women have dropped out of the labor force and are not currently looking for work. For males, the drop from 76% to 72% indicates 88,000 males dropped out of the labor force.
      • Coloradans with no college degree, including those with a high school diploma or those who did not graduate high school, saw unemployment rate grow from 4.3% to 17.2%.
      • Current unemployment rates don’t fully reflect the recent labor market disruptions. If labor force participation rates in May had stayed at the same level as February, then the May unemployment rate would be closer to 18%. By gender it would be 22% for female and 14% for male.