Press Release: Colorado Employment Situation – February 2021

Hide Featured Image

For Immediate Release

Date: March 26, 2021 / 8:00 A.M.
Contact: Office of Government, Policy and Public Relations

Colorado Employment Situation – February 2021
5,200 Nonfarm Payroll Jobs Added in February; Unemployment Rate Unchanged at 6.6%


Charts Final Size


Household survey data 

According to the survey of households, Colorado’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was unchanged in February at 6.6 percent. The national unemployment rate declined one-tenth of a percentage point from January to 6.2 percent.

Other highlights from the household survey:

  • Colorado’s labor force grew by 3,800 in February to 3,187,200. The share of Coloradans participating in the labor force in February remained steady at 68.6 percent and slightly lower than the pre-pandemic rate of 68.7 percent.

  • The number of individuals employed in Colorado increased by 5,700 in February to 2,977,900, which represents 64.1 percent of the state’s 16+ population. While Colorado’s employment-to-population ratio continues to improve since April, when it was 57.0 percent, it is still well below the pre-pandemic level of 66.8 percent.

  • The Colorado counties with the highest unemployment rates in February were: Huerfano (10.5%), Pueblo (9.3%), Montezuma (8.8%), Fremont (8.7%), and Costilla (8.3%). County-level unemployment rates are not seasonally adjusted and are directly comparable to Colorado’s February unadjusted rate of 6.8 percent.


Employment Situation - Graphic Labor Force Feb
Employment Situation - Graphic Counties Feb

Establishment survey data 

Employers in Colorado added 5,200 nonfarm payroll jobs from January to February for a total of 2,662,300 jobs, according to the survey of business establishments. Private sector payroll jobs increased 6,900 and government declined by 1,700. Since May, Colorado has gained back 219,100 of the 375,800 nonfarm payroll jobs lost between February and April of last year. That translates to a job recovery rate of 58.3 percent, which slightly exceeds the U.S. rate of 57.6 percent.

Other highlights from the establishment survey: 

  • January estimates were revised down to 2,657,100, and the over the month change from December to January was a gain of 30,400 rather than the originally estimated increase of 32,000 (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 February were: leisure and hospitality (~9,700), and education and health services (~2,200). Significant over the month private sector job loss occurred in professional and business services (~2,900) and financial activities (~1,100).

  • Since February 2020, nonfarm payroll jobs have decreased 156,700, with losses totaling 130,600 in the private sector and 26,100 in government. The largest private sector job losses were in leisure and hospitality (~72,400), education and health services (~12,700), and professional and business services (~11,200). Colorado’s rate of job loss over the past year is -5.6 percent, compared to the U.S. rate of -6.2 percent.

  • Over the year, the average workweek for all Colorado employees on private nonfarm payrolls decreased from 33.6 to 33.4 hours, while average hourly earnings fell from $31.00 to $30.83, approximately eighty cents more than the national average hourly earnings of $30.01.


Technical Notes 

This release provides information on industry employment and labor force statistics for February 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 during a continuation of the decline in the number of COVID-19 cases across the state, which resulted in loosening restrictions for many establishments. For 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 February 2021 | City Report February 2021 | County Report February 2021 | February 2021 Press Release