Unemployment Rate Falls to 4.0%;
Total Nonfarm Employment Returns to Pre-Pandemic Level
Household survey data
According to the survey of households, Colorado’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate decreased to 4.0 percent in February from 4.2 percent, as revised, in January. Colorado’s unemployment rate of 4.0 percent marks the lowest level since it was 2.8 percent in February 2020. The national unemployment rate also declined two-tenths of a percentage point from January to 3.8 percent.
Other highlights from the household survey:
Colorado’s labor force grew by 11,600 in February to 3,199,000. The share of Coloradans participating in the labor force improved to 68.7 percent last month, the highest rate since March 2020. 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 increased by 17,100 in February to 3,072,200, which represents 66.0 percent of the state’s 16+ population. Colorado’s employment-to-population ratio has nearly returned to pre-pandemic levels.
The Colorado counties with the highest unemployment rates in February were: Huerfano (7.2%), Pueblo (6.1%), Fremont (5.8%), Rio Grande (5.6%), and Las Animas (5.5%). County-level unemployment rates are not seasonally adjusted and are directly comparable to Colorado’s February unadjusted rate of 4.0 percent.
Establishment survey data
Employers in Colorado added 14,100 nonfarm payroll jobs from January to February for a total of 2,826,900 jobs, according to the survey of business establishments. Private sector payroll jobs increased 13,700 and government rose by 400. After the February gain of 14,100, Colorado has fully recovered the total nonfarm jobs lost in early 2020. Over the past 22 months, the state has added 381,800 nonfarm payroll jobs, compared to losses totaling 374,500 in March and April 2020. That translates to a job recovery rate of 101.9 percent, which exceeds the U.S. rate of 90.4 percent.
Since May 2020, Colorado’s private sector has grown by 383,300 jobs, compared to declines of 358,800 in early 2020. That translates to a job recovery rate of 106.8 percent and outpaces the U.S. rate of 93.2 percent.
Other highlights from the establishment survey:
January estimates were revised down to 2,812,800, and the over the month change from December to January was a gain of 6,000 rather than the originally estimated increase of 6,700 (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: trade, transportation, and utilities (~4,300), professional and business services (~3,900), leisure and hospitality (~2,300), and construction (~2,100). There were no industries with significant over the month declines.
Since February 2021, nonfarm payroll jobs have increased 138,200, with the private sector growing by 125,800 and government adding an additional 12,400 jobs. The largest private sector job gains were in leisure and hospitality (~52,700), professional and business services (~31,500), and trade, transportation, and utilities (~15,700). During that same period, mining and logging (~200) payroll jobs declined. Colorado’s rate of job growth over the past year is 5.1 percent, compared to the U.S. rate of 4.6 percent.
Over the year, the average workweek for all Colorado employees on private nonfarm payrolls decreased from 33.3 to 32.9 hours, while average hourly earnings grew from $30.87 to $33.79, over two dollars and twenty cents more than the national average hourly earnings of $31.58.
All Colorado estimates from the establishment and household surveys, including greater geographic detail, are available at: http://www.colmigateway.com. Estimates for all states and the nation are available at: http://www.bls.gov.
The March 2022 Colorado Employment Situation will be released at 8:00 AM on Friday, April 15, 2022. The full schedule of release dates for calendar year 2022 estimates is available at http://www.colmigateway.com.
This release provides information on industry employment and labor force statistics for February 2022, 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 February reference week coincides with a decline in COVID-19 case rates for Colorado and the nation following a peak in case rates due to the Omicron variant. For information regarding impacts to Bureau of Labor Statistics data collection and processing during the pandemic, go to https://www.bls.gov/covid19/home.htm.
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.