Colorado Jobs and Labor Force Update: May 2023
Authors: Cole Anderson, Erik Gamm

Colorado gained 3,900 nonfarm jobs in May, aided by a strong performance from Colorado’s manufacturing sector which added 1,300 jobs last month, the most for this sector since June 2020. For the 3rd consecutive month, Colorado’s unemployment rate held steady at 2.8%. The leisure and hospitality saw the largest cumulative job growth over the last two months, adding 8,600 total jobs over this time. Conversely, the professional and business services sector, which has seen employment growth of 10.24% since Jan. 2020, lost 1,900 jobs in May. The sector of other services, which includes industries like personal care, auto repair, and social activism, largest the largest single sector increase adding 3,900 jobs. The mining and logging sector, which includes oil and gas extraction, lost 100 jobs in May and continues to be the worst performing sector as compared to January 2020, having seen an 19% decrease in employment since that time.

Key Findings—Colorado May 2023 Employment Data (BLS CES Survey and LAUS)

  • Colorado’s manufacturing sector saw its largest single month job growth since June 2020. After declining for two straight months, Colorado’s manufacturing sector bounced back in May, adding 1,300 jobs. This was the largest growth for this sector since June 2020 when it added 1,300 jobs.
  • Colorado added 3,900 total nonfarm jobs in May.
  • Over the last two months, Colorado’s leisure and hospitality sector has added the most jobs of any private sector industry, adding 8,600 jobs cumulatively in April and May.
  • The total employment level is up 2.41% (78,600 jobs) above the pre-pandemic level, ranking Colorado 20th in terms of May ‘23 job levels relative to January ’20.
  • Thirty-five states have employment levels above what they were at the start of the pandemic. Texas has the highest differential (+968,400 jobs).
  • For the second month in a row, the BLS household survey shows that the number of people employed has recovered to its pre-pandemic level. The BLS establishment survey shows that the number of jobs relative to population has yet to recover to pre-pandemic levels.
    • According to CSI Mike A. Leprino Fellow Lang Sias’ latest report, Colorado net migration slowed significantly over the last two years contributing to the state’s tight labor market.
  • According to the BLS survey of households (LAUS), which captures both traditional jobs and self-employment, Colorado recovered to its pre-pandemic employment-to-population ratio in April.

A Deeper Dive into Colorado Industries (BLS CES Survey)

  • After highly variable growth across the first four months of 2023, Colorado’s private sector grew modestly in May.
    • The professional and business services sector lost 3,900 jobs and the “other services” sector added 3,900.
    • Government employment grew by 1,100.
  • The leisure and hospitality industry added 91,700 jobs between January ‘21 and May ‘23 and is now up 10,500 jobs (3.01%) above its January ‘20 level.
    • The arts, entertainment, and recreation industry grew by zero jobs in May.
    • The accommodation and food services industry grew by .97% (2,900 jobs).
  • The pandemic caused a major shock to the composition of Colorado’s job market in early 2020 and may have induced some structural change in the long run.
      • As a share of Colorado’s total employment, the professional and business services sector has grown by almost 7.3% since the start of 2020 (see the graph below).
      • Since January 2020, employment in the mining and logging sector has decreased by 18.7%, reducing its share of state employment by 20.9%, though this is likely the result of a combination of global trends and state policy.

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Colorado Labor Force Update

Colorado’s LFPR (labor force participation rate) increased to 68.7% and its unemployment rate remained at 2.8% in May. May was the third consecutive month and the eighth month in the last nine during which Colorado’s unemployment rate registered exactly 2.8%.

Key Findings—Colorado May ‘23 Labor Force Data (FRED and IPUMS)

* At the time of reporting, IPUMS labor force participation rate (LFPR) data for state sub-populations is not available for May.

  • The LFPR increased by .1 of a percentage point to 68.7%, which is .2 of a percentage point below January ’20’s LFPR of 68.9%.
  • The unemployment rate remained at 2.8% in May, which is .1 of a percentage point below what it was a year ago.
  • The national female LFPR remained at 57.3%, which is .5 of a percentage point below its pre-pandemic level.