Press Release: Colorado Employment Situation – October 2021

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Unemployment Rate Declines to 5.4%; Colorado Job Recovery Continues to Outpace U.S.

Household survey data

According to the survey of households, Colorado’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate fell two-tenths of a percentage point in October to 5.4 percent. The national unemployment rate also declined by two-tenths of a percentage point to 4.6 percent. 

Other highlights from the household survey:

  • Colorado’s labor force increased by 3,400 in October to 3,196,800. The share of Coloradans participating in the labor force held at 68.2 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 11,900 in October to 3,025,500, which represents 64.5 percent of the state’s 16+ population. Colorado’s employment-to-population ratio has trended upward over the past two months.
  • The Colorado counties with the highest unemployment rates in October were: Pueblo (6.8%), Huerfano (6.1%), Las Animas (5.5%), Fremont (5.5%), and Pitkin (5.4%). County-level unemployment rates are not seasonally adjusted and are directly comparable to Colorado’s October unadjusted rate of 4.5 percent.


Establishment survey data

Employers in Colorado added 10,600 nonfarm payroll jobs from September to October for a total of 2,756,300 jobs, according to the survey of business establishments. Private sector payroll jobs increased 10,000 and government added 600 jobs. Over the past 18 months, Colorado has gained back 313,100 of the 375,800 nonfarm payroll jobs lost between February and April of last year. That translates to a job recovery rate of 83.3 percent, which exceeds the U.S. rate of 81.2 percent.

Other highlights from the establishment survey:

  • September estimates were revised up to 2,745,700, and the over the month change from August to September was a gain of 9,700 rather than the originally estimated increase of 5,100 (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 October were: leisure and hospitality (~6,800), trade, transportation, and utilities (~2,100), and professional and business services (~1,900). Significant over the month private sector job loss occurred in other services (~2,000).
  • Since October 2020, nonfarm payroll jobs have increased 104,600, with the private sector growing by 92,500 jobs and government adding an additional 12,100 jobs. The largest private sector job gains were in leisure and hospitality (~45,200), professional and business services (~23,400), and trade, transportation, and utilities (~15,800). During that same period, construction (~1,200) payroll jobs declined. Colorado’s rate of job growth over the past year is 3.9 percent, compared to the U.S. rate of 4.1 percent.
  • Over the year, the average workweek for all Colorado employees on private nonfarm payrolls decreased from 33.7 to 33.3 hours, while average hourly earnings increased from $30.83 to $32.54, a dollar and fifty-eight cents more than the national average hourly earnings of $30.96.




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 November 2021 Colorado Employment Situation will be released at 8:00 AM on Friday, December 17, 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 October 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 October reference week overlaps a period in which COVID-19 case rates for Colorado and the nation remained elevated compared to earlier in the year. 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.



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