Colorado’s robust economy has added 405,400 jobs since April 2020, eclipsing the 374,500 jobs the state lost in March and April 2020. This represents a recovery rate of 108.3 percent which is 13.3 percentage points higher than the nationwide recovery rate of 95%. Colorado added 14,600 jobs in April and March’s employment level was revised downwards by 500. April nonfarm employment rose to 2,848,600, which is 4.7% higher than April 2021’s 2,719,600. Colorado’s unemployment rate now stands at 3.6%.

Key FindingsColorado March 2022 Employment Data (BLS CES Survey[i])

  • Colorado added 14,600 total nonfarm jobs in April (a monthly change of 0.5% for a total year-on-year change of 4.7%).
    • In April, the state’s employment level continued to recover and is now 29,100 higher than it was before the pandemic.
    • To recover to the pre-pandemic unemployment rate of 2.7% by January 2023, Colorado needs to add 5,627 jobs each month, on average.
  • The total employment level is up 1.3% (29,100 jobs) above its pre-pandemic level, ranking Colorado 12th in terms of April ‘22 job levels relative to Jan. ’20.
    • Washington D.C. ranked 50th and Hawaii 51st in terms of current job levels relative to Jan. ’20 and are down 5% and 8.6%, respectively.
    • Fifteen states have employment levels above what they were at the start of the pandemic. Texas has the highest differential (+328,300 jobs).

A Deeper Dive into Colorado Industries

  • Some sectors in Colorado added jobs in April and others lost
    • The leisure and hospitality industry added 6,400 jobs. The durable goods manufacturing industry lost 700 jobs.
  • Though the leisure and hospitality industry has led the recovery by adding 74,600 jobs between Jan. ‘21 and Apr. ‘22, it is still down 6,900 jobs relative to Jan. ‘20.
      • Arts, entertainment, and recreation is down .33% (200 jobs).
      • Accommodation and food services is down 2.33% (6,700 jobs).

    Colorado Labor Force Update

    Colorado’s LFPR (labor force participation rate) decreased in April to 68.9%, which combined with the strong job growth led to a decline in the unemployment rate to 3.6%. The LFPR of retirement-age (65 years and older) workers is now slightly below the pre-pandemic level by 0.26%. After months where retirement age workers were re-entering the labor force, LFPR unexplainably plummeted in April. This could be a reporting or data issue; we will wait and see what next month’s data shows.

    Key Findings—Colorado March ‘22 Labor Force Data (FRED[ii], and IPUMS-CPS[iii])

        • April’s LFPR increased slightly to 69.1%, .5 percentage points above Jan. ’20’s LFPR of 68.6%.
        • April’s unemployment rate dropped by .1 percentage points to 3.6%, which is still 0.9 percentage points above Jan. ’20’s unemployment rate of 2.7%.
        • In April, the LFPR of Colorado women decreased from 63.21% to 58.89%.  It is now 5.25 percentage points below its pre-pandemic level.
            • The national female LFPR fell by .1 percentage points to 7%, which is 1.1 percentage point below its pre-pandemic level.
            • There are now 122,535 fewer women in the workforce than there would be if Colorado’s April LFPR of women was the same as it was before the pandemic.

    Prime-age, Older, and Retirement-age People in the Labor Force

        • Since Jan. ’20, the labor force participation rate of all 50–64-year-old workers, regardless of sex, has increased by 3.41%.
        • There are 53,444 fewer retirement-age workers in the labor force today than there would be at the pre-pandemic participation rate. After several months of strong recovery, this group’s labor force participation rate plummeted in April by 5.66 percentage points and now stands at 23.02%.
        • The LFPR of prime-age workers (25–49) remained below its Jan. ’20 level. A few possible explanations are that increased savings accumulated during the pandemic are allowing people to delay re-entering the labor force. Now that the stock market has shed approximately 20% of its value and inflation is at record levels, expectations are that we will see more workers in this age group to return to the labor force.

    [i] https://www.bls.gov/data/

    [ii] https://fred.stlouisfed.org/

    [iii] https://cps.ipums.org/cps/