Unemployment rate drops statewide, mostly flat in NoCo, Boulder Valley

DENVER — The Colorado unemployment rate fell three-tenths of a percentage point from October to November, while rates in Larimer, Weld, Boulder and Broomfield counties remained mostly unchanged over the month. 

Colorado’s seasonally adjusted jobless figure was 5.1% in November, compared with a national average of 4.2%, according to new information provided Friday by the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment.

Locally, Boulder County led the way with a 3.5% not-seasonally adjusted unemployment rate last month, unchanged from October.

The rate in Broomfield County for both October and November was 3.7%, while Larimer County posted a 3.8% figure during those months. 

Weld County’s jobless rate ticked up one-tenth of a percentage point in November to 4.6%.

For comparison, the not-seasonally adjusted rate for Colorado was 4.4% in November and 4.5% in October.

Colorado’s labor force increased by 3,100 in November to 3,199,900, and the share of Coloradans participating in the labor force held at 68.2% last month, which puts Colorado in the top half of states in the ranking of speediest recoveries. 

“Employers in Colorado added 9,800 nonfarm payroll jobs from October to November for a total of 2,765,400 jobs, according to CDLE’s monthly jobs report. “… Over the past 19 months, Colorado has gained back 322,200 of the 375,800 nonfarm payroll jobs lost between February and April of last year. That translates to a job recovery rate of 85.7%, which exceeds the U.S. rate of 82.5%.”

Over the year, the average weekly hours worked by Coloradans fell from 34.3 to 33.1 hours, while average hourly earnings increased from $31.27 to $33.05. The national average is $31.03.

While the recovery has been uneven — evidenced by the sluggish come-back in the tourism and hospitality sectors — “we’ve seen a lot of gains across a lot of other sectors,” CLDE senior economist Ryan Gedney said. 

Like other prominent Colorado economists, Gedney expects the state’s job recovery to surpass pre-pandemic levels in the coming year.

He estimates that total jobs will exceed levels from February 2020 around the end of the first quarter of 2022 or early in the second quarter.