Colorado Unemployment Rate Drops As Jobs Added, Workforce Shrinks

August 21, 2020
Target Hiring Employment UnemploymentTarget Hiring Employment UnemploymentHart Van Denburg/CPR News
A sign outside a Target store in Denver advertises job openings Wednesday, July 22, 2020.

Colorado’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate declined to 7.4 percent in July, down from 10.6 percent in June, according to the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment.

The state’s monthly drop was among the largest in the U.S. Colorado had the 15th lowest unemployment rate in the country, compared with 35th in June.

The state’s leisure and hospitality industry has been hit particularly hard by the pandemic, with about 77,200 jobs lost compared to the same time last year. In July, that sector added 11,800 jobs compared to the prior month. Colorado has regained 134,200 of the 342,300 nonfarm payroll jobs lost between February and April. That translates to a job recovery rate of 39.2 percent, behind the national rate of 41.9 percent. 

A decline in the unemployment rate isn’t necessarily all good news. A large part of last month’s dip was because the overall labor force shrank by 98,000, which means fewer people were looking for work. It’s unclear why people dropped out of the labor force in July, Ryan Gedney, a senior economist with the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment, said during a conference call to discuss the report

“I do not believe this drop was caused by unemployed individuals who simply stopped looking for work because they were discouraged,” Gedney said.  

School and family responsibilities may be preventing people from looking for work, he said.

Gilpin County has the highest unemployment rate at 12 percent, followed by Summit at 10.1 percent, and Huerfano at 9.9 percent. Both Pitkin and Eagle counties recorded 9.4 percent unemployment.