Press Release: Colorado Employment Situation – September 2021

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Household survey data

According to the survey of households, Colorado’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate fell three-tenths of a percentage point in September to 5.6 percent. The national unemployment rate declined by four-tenths of a percentage point to 4.8 percent.

Other highlights from the household survey:

  • Colorado’s labor force decreased by 900 in September to 3,192,300. The share of Coloradans participating in the labor force was 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 9,300 in September to 3,013,500, which represents 64.3 percent of the state’s 16+ population. Colorado has one of the highest employment-to-population ratios in the nation, ranking 7th in August.
  • The Colorado counties with the highest unemployment rates in September were: Pueblo (7.0%), Huerfano (6.5%), Las Animas (5.8%), Fremont (5.7%), Adams (5.5%), and Bent (5.5%). County-level unemployment rates are not seasonally adjusted and are directly comparable to Colorado’s September unadjusted rate of 4.6 percent.
Labor Force Participation
Number of individuals Employed

Establishment survey data
Employers in Colorado added 5,100 nonfarm payroll jobs from August to September for a total of 2,741,100 jobs, according to the survey of business establishments. Private sector payroll jobs increased 8,400 and government shed 3,300 jobs. Over the past 17 months, Colorado has gained back 297,900 of the 375,800 nonfarm payroll jobs lost between February and April of last year. That translates to a job recovery rate of 79.3 percent, which exceeds the U.S. rate of 77.8 percent.

Other highlights from the establishment survey:


  • August estimates were revised down to 2,736,000, and the over the month change from July to August was a gain of 5,000 rather than the originally estimated increase of 5,600 (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 September were: leisure and hospitality (~3,800), trade, transportation, and utilities (~2,400), other services (~1,100), and professional and business services (~1,100). Significant over the month private sector job loss occurred in education and health services (~1,600).
  • Since September 2020, nonfarm payroll jobs have increased 102,100, with the private sector growing by 92,700 jobs and government adding an additional 9,400 jobs. The largest private sector job gains were in leisure and hospitality (~41,800), professional and business services (~23,500), and trade, transportation, and utilities (~17,400). During that same period, manufacturing (~800) and construction (~600) payroll jobs declined. Colorado’s rate of job growth over the past year is 3.9 percent, compared to the U.S. rate of 4.0 percent.
  • Over the year, the average workweek for all Colorado employees on private nonfarm payrolls increased from 32.9 to 33.5 hours, while average hourly earnings increased from $31.02 to $32.46, a dollar and sixty-one cents more than the national average hourly earnings of $30.85.



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 2021 Colorado Employment Situation will be released at 8:00 AM on Friday, November 19, 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 September 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 September reference week overlaps a period in which COVID-19 case rates for Colorado and the nation remained elevated due to the Delta variant. 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. 


Resources Mentioned

Supplemental Information
Labor Force Summary September 2021
City Report September 2021
County Report September 2021
September 2021 Press Release

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