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 109.6 percent which is 13.3 percentage points higher than the nationwide recovery rate of 96.3%. Colorado added 5,400 jobs in May and April’s employment level was revised downwards by 1,400. May nonfarm employment rose to 2,855,400, which is 4.6% higher than May 2021’s 2,730,800. Colorado’s unemployment rate now stands at 3.5%.

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

  • Colorado added 5,400 total nonfarm jobs in May (a monthly change of 0.2% for a total year-on-year change of 4.6%).
    • In May, the state’s employment level continued to recover and is now 35,900 higher than it was before the pandemic.
    • To recover to the pre-pandemic employment-to-population ratio by January 2023, Colorado needs to add 6,330 jobs each month, on average.
    • According to the BLS’s household survey, which captures both traditional jobs and self-employment, Colorado has recovered to a 66.9 employment-to-population ratio, which is above the pre-pandemic level of 66.7.
  • The total employment level is up 1.3% (35,900 jobs) above its pre-pandemic level, ranking Colorado 11th in terms of May ‘22 job levels relative to Jan. ’20.
    • Alaska ranked 50th and Hawaii 51st in terms of current job levels relative to Jan. ’20 and are down 5.1% and 8.9%, respectively.
    • Fifteen states have employment levels above what they were at the start of the pandemic. Texas has the highest differential (+400,900 jobs).

A Deeper Dive into Colorado Industries

  • Some sectors in Colorado added jobs in May and others lost
    • The professional and business services industry added 3,000 jobs. There were 4,800 job losses in the retail trade industry.
  • Though the leisure and hospitality industry has led the recovery by adding 75,000 jobs between Jan. ‘21 and Apr. ‘22, it is still down 6,900 jobs relative to Jan. ‘20.
    • Arts, entertainment, and recreation is down 2.5% (1,500 jobs).
    • Accommodation and food services is down 1.74% (5,000 jobs).

Colorado Labor Force Update

Colorado’s LFPR (labor force participation rate) increased in May to 69.4%, which combined with the strong job growth led to a decline in the unemployment rate to 3.5%. The LFPR of retirement-age (65 years and older) workers is now below its pre-pandemic level by 7.39 percentage points. After months where retirement age workers were re-entering the labor force, their LFPR has unexplainably plummeted since March by 7.13 percentage points. This could be a seasonal phenomenon whereby retirement age workers are taking the summer off.

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

  • The LFPR increased slightly in May to 69.4%, .8 percentage points above Jan. ’20’s LFPR of 68.6%.
  • May’s unemployment rate dropped by .1 percentage points to 3.5%, which is still 0.8 percentage points above Jan. ’20’s unemployment rate of 2.7%.
  • In May, the LFPR of Colorado women increased from 89% to 62.27%.  It is now 1.87 percentage points below its pre-pandemic level.
    • The national female LFPR rose by .3 percentage points to 57%, which is .8 percentage points below its pre-pandemic level.
    • There are now 43,581 fewer women in the workforce than there would be if Colorado’s May 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 2.63%.
  • There are 63,396 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 has plummeted by 7.13 percentage points since March and now sits at 21.55%.
  • The LFPR of prime-age workers (25–49) rose by 1.1 percentage points but remained 1.69 below its Jan. ’20 level. Now that the stock market has shed $3 trillion and the Federal Reserve is raising interest rates to stamp out inflation, expectations are that we will see more workers in this age group return to the labor force.

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

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

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