Press Release: Colorado Employment Situation – August 2021 5,600 Nonfarm Payroll Jobs Added in August; Unemployment Rate Declines to 5.9%

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Date: September, 2021 / 8:00 A.M.
Contact: Office of Government, Policy and Public Relations

14,800 Nonfarm Payroll Jobs Added in July; Unemployment Rate Declines to 6.1%

Employment Situation - Chart Graphic August 2021
Employment Situation - Chart Graphic August 2021


Household survey data

According to the survey of households, Colorado’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate fell two-tenths of a percentage point in August to 5.9 percent. This marks the first time since March 2020 that the state’s unemployment rate has been below six percent. The national unemployment rate also declined by two-tenths of a percentage point to 5.2 percent. 

Other highlights from the household survey:
Colorado’s labor force decreased by 2,300 in August to 3,193,200. The share of Coloradans participating in the labor force was 68.3 percent last month. The state continues to experience a faster rate of recovery in the participation rate than the U.S.
The number of individuals employed in Colorado grew by 4,700 in August to 3,004,200, which represents 64.2 percent of the state’s 16+ population. Colorado has one of the highest employment-to-population ratios in the nation, ranking 7th in July.
The Colorado counties with the highest unemployment rates in August were: Pueblo (7.9%), Huerfano (7.8%), Las Animas (6.8%), Fremont (6.5%), and Adams (6.2%). County-level unemployment rates are not seasonally adjusted and are directly comparable to Colorado’s August unadjusted rate of 5.4 percent.


Establishment survey data

Employers in Colorado added 5,600 nonfarm payroll jobs from July to August for a total of 2,736,600 jobs, according to the survey of business establishments. Private sector payroll jobs increased 5,000 and government added 600 jobs. Over the past 16 months, Colorado has gained back 293,400 of the 375,800 nonfarm payroll jobs lost between February and April of last year. That translates to a job recovery rate of 78.1 percent, which exceeds the U.S. rate of 76.2 percent.

Other highlights from the establishment survey:
July estimates were revised down to 2,731,000, and the over the month change from June to July was a gain of 12,200 rather than the originally estimated increase of 14,800 (monthly revisions are based on additional responses from businesses and government agencies since the last published estimates).
Private industry sectors with significant job gains in August were: leisure and hospitality (~3,700), other services (~1,900), professional and business services (~1,500), and trade, transportation, and utilities (~1,100). Significant over the month private sector job loss occurred in education and health services (~1,600) and financial activities (~1,200).
Since August 2020, nonfarm payroll jobs have increased 117,400, with the private sector growing by 104,500 jobs and government adding an additional 12,900 jobs. The largest private sector job gains were in leisure and hospitality (~47,100), professional and business services (~24,500), and trade, transportation, and utilities (~19,100). During that same period construction (~2,200) and manufacturing (~600) payroll jobs declined. Colorado’s rate of job growth over the past year is 4.5 percent, compared to the U.S. rate of 4.3 percent.
Over the year, the average workweek for all Colorado employees on private nonfarm payrolls was unchanged at 34.3 hours, while average hourly earnings increased from $30.69 to $32.19, a dollar and forty-six cents more than the national average hourly earnings of $30.73.


All Colorado estimates from the establishment and household surveys, including greater geographic detail, are available at: Estimates for all states and the nation are available at:

The September 2021 Colorado Employment Situation will be released at 8:00 AM on Friday, October 22, 2021. The full schedule of release dates for calendar year 2021 estimates is available at


Technical Notes 

This release provides information on industry employment and labor force statistics for August 2021, the most current estimates available from the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment. The reference period for the establishment and household surveys was the pay period or week that includes the 12th of the month. Therefore, this release provides an estimate of Colorado’s employment situation as vaccination rates among the adult population continued to increase and pandemic-related restrictions were relaxed for businesses across the state. Additionally, the August reference week overlaps a period in which COVID-19 case rates for Colorado and the nation increased due to the Delta variant. For information on Colorado unemployment insurance claims activity and related statistics, visit For information regarding impacts to Bureau of Labor Statistics data collection and processing during the pandemic, go to

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.

Nonfarm payroll jobs 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. Other series based on this survey include private sector average weekly hours, average hourly earnings and average weekly earnings.

The business establishment survey covers about seven times the number of households surveyed and is therefore considered a more reliable indicator of economic conditions. Because the estimates are based on two separate surveys, one measuring jobs by worksite and the other measuring persons employed and unemployed by household, estimates based on these surveys may provide seemingly conflicting results.


Supplemental Information | Labor Force Summary August 2021 | City Report August 2021
County Report August 2021 | August 2021 Press Release