Colorado unemployment rate continued drop in July

DENVER — Colorado’s unemployment rate continued its months-long downward plunge in July, creeping within a half a percentage point of the pre-COVID-19 pandemic low.

The seasonally adjusted jobless rate fell one-tenth of a percentage point in July to 3.3%, the lowest the figure has been since February 2020, when it was 2.8%, according to Colorado Department of Labor and Employment data released Friday. 

“There’s a lot of competition for labor,” CDLE senior economist Ryan Gedney said. 

The national rate fell by the same margin in July to 3.5%, equal to the pre-pandemic low. 

The Centennial State’s employment-to-population ratio has risen for seven straight months, reaching its highest level in July (67.2%) since January 2009.

According to Gedney, there are about 0.5 unemployed people for every available job in Colorado, a similar ratio to what existed in late 2019 “at the end of a very long economic expansion.”

While most industry sectors added jobs in July, some, such as the retail and manufacturing segments, struggled.

Manufacturing has experienced “volatile” monthly swings in employment totals with the industry losing or gaining hundreds of jobs several times this year, Gedney said. “It’s been difficult to parse out what is happening in manufacturing. … It’s something worth monitoring over the next couple of months.” 

Locally, Broomfield County led the Boulder Valley and Northern Colorado regions last month with a 2.7% non-seasonally adjusted jobless rate.

Boulder County followed at 2.8%, Larimer 2.9% and Weld 3.6%.

Over the year, the average workweek for all Colorado employees on private nonfarm payrolls decreased from 33.9 to 33.0 hours, according to the CLDE, while average hourly earnings grew from $31.92 to $34.60, topping the national average of $32.37.