Press Release: Colorado Employment Situation – January 2022

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Unemployment Rate Declines to 4.1%;
Private Sector Returns to Pre-Pandemic Level of Employment

Chart showing Colorado employment rate over time

Household survey data

According to the survey of households, Colorado’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate decreased in January to 4.1 percent from the revised December rate of 4.2 percent. Colorado’s unemployment rate of 4.1 percent marks the lowest level since it was 2.8 percent in February 2020. The national unemployment rate moved upward by one-tenth of a percentage point from December to 4.0 percent.

Other highlights from the household survey:

  • Colorado’s labor force increased by 16,700 in January to 3,187,400. The share of Coloradans participating in the labor force improved to 68.5 percent in January. 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 17,500 in January to 3,055,200, which represents 65.7 percent of the state’s 16+ population.
  • The Colorado counties with the highest unemployment rates in January were: Huerfano (7.2%), Pueblo (6.3%), Rio Grande (5.7%), Las Animas (5.6%), Fremont (5.6%). County-level unemployment rates are not seasonally adjusted and are directly comparable to Colorado’s January unadjusted rate of 3.9 percent.


Labor force participation increased by 16700 in Januarynumber of individuals employed grew by 17500 in January to 3055200

Establishment survey data

Employers in Colorado added 6,700 nonfarm payroll jobs from December to January for a total of 2,813,500 jobs, according to the survey of business establishments. Private sector payroll jobs increased 6,300 and government added 400 jobs. Over the past 21 months, Colorado has gained back 368,400 of the 374,500 nonfarm payroll jobs lost between February and April of 2020. That translates to a job recovery rate of 98.4 percent, which exceeds the U.S. rate of 86.9 percent.

After annual revisions and the January gain of 6,300, Colorado’s private sector has fully recovered jobs lost in early 2020. Since May 2020, the state has added 370,000 private sector payroll jobs, compared to losses totaling 358,800 in March and April 2020. That translates to a job recovery rate of 103.1 percent and outpaces the U.S. rate of 89.8 percent.

Other highlights from the establishment survey:

  • Private industry sectors with significant job gains in January were: construction (~2,000), professional and business services (~1,900), trade, transportation, and utilities (~1,100), and manufacturing (~1,000). There were no industries with significant over the month declines.

  • Since January 2021, nonfarm payroll jobs have increased 147,500, with the private sector growing by 134,200 jobs and government adding an additional 13,300 jobs. The largest private sector job gains were in leisure and hospitality (~64,800), professional and business services (~30,800), and trade, transportation, and utilities (~11,000). No industry experienced job loss during that same period. Colorado’s rate of job growth over the past year is 5.5 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 increased from 33.5 to 33.6 hours, while average hourly earnings rose from $31.12 to $34.27, two dollars and sixty-four cents more than the national average hourly earnings of $31.63.


Annual averages and benchmark revisions to 2021 data

chart showing Colorado unemployment rate changes 2009 through 2021

The annual unemployment rate for Colorado was 5.4 percent in 2021, revised down from the previously published 5.9 percent. The U.S. unemployment rate in 2021 was also 5.4 percent.

Colorado nonfarm payroll employment increased at an annual rate of 3.5 percent in 2021, or 93,900 jobs. The U.S. annual payroll jobs growth rate in 2021 was 2.8 percent.

In accordance with annual practice, both establishment and household survey data estimates for Colorado undergo a benchmarking process. The benchmark process results in revisions to estimates for prior years. Below are select revisions to 2021 establishment and household survey estimates. More information on the benchmarking process is available at

Table A Revisions to Colorado Total Nonfarm Employment January to December 2021 Seasonally Adjusted