Press Release: Colorado Employment Situation – September 2020

Hide Featured Image

For Immediate Release
Date: October 20, 2020 / 8:00 A.M.
Contact: Office of Government, Policy and Public Relations


Colorado Employment Situation – September 2020
13,400 Nonfarm Payroll Jobs Added in September; Unemployment Rate Falls to 6.4%

Press Release: Employment Situation - September 2020 Charts

Household survey data 

According to the survey of households, Colorado’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate decreased to 6.4 percent in September from 6.7 percent in August. During the same period, the national unemployment rate declined half of a percentage point to 7.9 percent.

Other highlights from the household survey: 

  • Colorado’s labor force grew by 59,600 in September to 3,147,400. The labor force participation rate rose by 1.2 percentage points to 67.9 percent, but is still below the February ratio of 69.4 percent.
  • The number of individuals employed in Colorado increased by 63,400 in September to 2,945,400, which represents 63.6 percent of the state’s 16+ population. While Colorado’s employment-to-population ratio continues to improve since April, when it was 58.3 percent, it still falls well below the February level of 67.7 percent.
  • The Colorado counties with the highest unemployment rates in September were: Huerfano (8.3%), Summit (8.1%), Gilpin (7.9%), Pueblo (7.5%), and Denver (7.4%). County-level unemployment rates are not seasonally adjusted and are directly comparable to Colorado’s September unadjusted rate of 6.2 percent.
Press Release: Employment Situation - September 2020 Labor force participation Graphic
Press Release: Employment Situation - September 2020 Individuals employed Graphic

Establishment survey data 

Employers in Colorado added 13,400 nonfarm payroll jobs from August to September for a total of 2,665,200 jobs, according to the survey of business establishments. Private sector payroll jobs increased by 20,800 and government declined by 7,400. Since May, Colorado has gained back 194,100 of the 342,300 nonfarm payroll jobs lost between February and April. That translates to a job recovery rate of 56.7 percent, which exceeds the U.S. rate of 51.5 percent.

Other highlights from the establishment survey: 

  • August estimates were revised up to 2,651,800, and the over the month change from July to August was a gain of 39,100 rather than the originally estimated increase of 36,900 (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 September were: leisure and hospitality (~8,000), trade, transportation, and utilities (~6,000), other services (~2,100), education and health services (~2,000), financial activities (~1,800), professional and business services (~1,500), and manufacturing (~1,000). The only private industry sector with significant over the month job loss was construction (~1,300). 
  • Since September 2019, nonfarm payroll jobs have decreased 134,300, with losses totaling 102,600 in the private sector and 31,700 in government. The largest private sector job losses were in leisure and hospitality (~56,500), trade, transportation, and utilities (~12,400), and construction (~8,800). Colorado’s rate of job loss over the past year is -4.8 percent, compared to the U.S. rate of -6.4 percent. 
  • Over the year, the average workweek for all Colorado employees on private nonfarm payrolls decreased from 34.1 to 32.8 hours, while average hourly earnings rose from $30.79 to $31.10over a dollar and sixty cents more than the national average hourly earnings of $29.47.


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 October 2020 Colorado Employment Situation will be released at 8:00 AM on Friday, November 20, 2020. The full schedule of release dates for calendar year 2020 estimates is available at



Technical Notes 

This release provides information on industry employment and labor force statistics for September 2020, 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 Governor’s Safer at Home order, which resulted in a return to work for more Coloradans. 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.