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Press Release: Colorado Employment Situation – May 2022

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Unemployment Rate Falls to 3.5% in May;
5,400 Nonfarm Payroll Jobs Added

Household survey data

According to the survey of households, Colorado’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate fell one-tenth of a percentage point in May to 3.5 percent. This marks the lowest rate since February 2020, when it was 2.8 percent. The national unemployment rate was 3.6 percent in May, unchanged from the prior two months.

Other highlights from the household survey:

  • Colorado’s labor force grew by 15,400 in May to 3,240,700. The share of Coloradans participating in the labor force improved to 69.4 percent last month, the highest rate since March 2020. May also marks the first time since 2012 that the state’s participation rate has exceeded 69 percent for two consecutive months.

  • The number of individuals employed in Colorado increased by 17,200 in May to 3,126,100, which represents 66.9 percent of the state’s 16+ population. Colorado’s employment-to-population ratio is at its highest level since November 2019, which was also 66.9 percent.

  • The Colorado counties with the highest unemployment rates in May were: Huerfano (5.4%), Pueblo (4.9%), San Miguel (4.6%), Las Animas (4.3%), and Fremont (4.2%). County-level unemployment rates are not seasonally adjusted and are directly comparable to Colorado’s May unadjusted rate of 3.0 percent.

Establishment survey data

Employers in Colorado added 5,400 nonfarm payroll jobs from April to May for a total of 2,855,400 jobs, according to the survey of business establishments. Private sector payroll jobs increased 5,200 and government added 200 jobs. Over the past 25 months, Colorado has added 410,300 nonfarm payroll jobs, compared to losses totaling 374,500 in March and April 2020. That translates to a job recovery rate of 109.6 percent, which exceeds the U.S. rate of 96.3 percent.

Since May 2020, Colorado’s private sector has grown by 414,000 jobs, compared to declines of 358,800 in early 2020. That translates to a job recovery rate of 115.4 percent and outpaces the U.S. rate of 99.0 percent.

Other highlights from the establishment survey:

  • April estimates were revised up to 2,850,000, and the over the month change from March to April was a gain of 16,000 rather than the originally estimated increase of 14,600 (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 May were: professional and business services (~3,000), leisure and hospitality (~1,800), and manufacturing (~1,000).  Significant over the month private sector job loss occurred in trade, transportation, and utilities (~2,700).

  • Since May 2021, nonfarm payroll jobs have increased 124,600, with the private sector growing by 116,800 and government adding 7,800 jobs. The largest private sector job gains were in leisure and hospitality (~37,800), professional and business services (~31,700), and trade, transportation, and utilities (~16,700). No industry experienced job loss during that same period. Colorado’s rate of job growth over the past year is 4.6 percent, which marginally exceeds the U.S. rate of 4.5 percent.

  • Over the year, the average workweek for all Colorado employees on private nonfarm payrolls decreased from 33.9 to 33.7 hours, while average hourly earnings grew from $31.76 to $34.62, two dollars and sixty-seven cents more than the national average hourly earnings of $31.95.


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 June 2022 Colorado Employment Situation will be released at 8:00 AM on Friday, July 22, 2022. The full schedule of release dates for calendar year 2022 estimates is available at


Technical Notes

This release provides information on industry employment and labor force statistics for May 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.

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.

Resources Mentioned
Supplemental Information
Labor Force Summary May 2022
City Report May 2022
County Report May 2022
May 2022 Press Release