Black Coloradans face unemployment rates more than three times the statewide average, despite pre-pandemic disparities being much less pronounced. Courtesy Colorado Department of Labor and Employment

Colorado unemployment level syncs up with national average

Unemployment in Colorado matches the national average rate of 3.6%, according to new data about April 2022 provided by the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment today. 

Ryan Gedney, senior labor economist with the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment, was optimistic about employment levels in a press call.

The April unemployment report also found April 2022 workforce participation rates slightly surpassed pre-pandemic levels, reaching 69.1% compared to 68.4% in February 2020.

“The fundamentals are good, the labor force looks great in Colorado, it looks great in the nation,” Gedney said.

Northern Colorado has fairly low unemployment rates, with almost every county beating the national average. 

Boulder and Broomfield counties tied with the lowest unemployment rates in the region at 2.4%. Both counties had unemployment rates of 2.8% in March.

Larimer County had an unemployment rate of 2.6%, down from 3.1% in March.

Weld County had an unemployment rate of 3.4%, beating the national average and coming down from an unemployment rate of 3.9% in March.

Denver and Adams counties had April unemployment rates slightly higher than the national average, with both counties at 3.7% unemployment. Adams County faced 4.3% unemployment in March while Denver faced 3.9% over that same period.

Colorado’s job recovery rate surpasses the national average, with 107.7% of total non-farm jobs recovered since the start of the pandemic. Nationwide, only 94.6% total non-farm jobs have bounced back.

While the state has recovered a good portion of its jobs, not all of that recovery is spread evenly. The Fort Collins metropolitan statistical area, which includes Loveland, has recovered fewer jobs than the state-wide average but is still above the nationwide average with 103% of jobs recovered. 

Greeley’s metropolitan statistical area, which includes all of Weld County, with its high number of oil and gas jobs, has fared the worst out of seven metropolitan areas counted in the report, with only 56% of jobs recovered, well below the national average.

“The Greeley MSA does lag the rest of the state,” Gedney said.

Job gains are not just spread unevenly between regions of the state. Black workers in Colorado faced higher unemployment rates than other racial groups surveyed between May of 2021 and April of 2022. In 2019, Black workers had an unemployment rate of 4% compared to 2.4% for white workers and 3.4% for Hispanic workers. While white and Hispanic workers have had unemployment rates of 3.7% and 4.2%, respectively, between May of 2021 and April of 2022, Black workers see unemployment levels at 13.7%.

The government job sector has seen some job shrinkage even in this recovery period, as well as the mining and logging industry. However, low unemployment rates have translated to a very tight labor market. At both the statewide and nationwide level, there are twice as many jobs open as there are unemployed people, rates that haven’t been seen since fall of 2019.

“Right now, things still look pretty good from a labor perspective,” Gedney said.

Revisions to these data as more information comes in will be released May 25 and June 17.