Colorado Has Gained Back Thousands Of Jobs Lost Early In The Pandemic, But Construction Jobs Still Lag Behind

Workers on the Central 70 project
Hart Van Denburg/CPR News
Workers on the Central 70 project underneath the Interstate 70 viaduct in Denver, Tuesday, May 19, 2020.

Colorado has gained back thousands of nonfarm payroll jobs that were lost during the first wave of the pandemic, but some industries are faring better than others.

The latest report from Colorado’s Department of Labor and Employment shows employers added more than 21,000 nonfarm payroll jobs from September to October. Nonfarm payroll jobs are people who work in places like construction or manufacturing. It doesn’t include farmworkers, government employees or people who work in nonprofit.

The additional jobs put the state’s recovery rate at 63 percent, the department reports.

Colorado’s recovery rate is even higher in private health care and social assistance at 70 percent. More than 41,000 jobs were lost between February to April, and 20,900 jobs returned from April to October.

State economist Ryan Gedney attributes that drop and gain in jobs to when elective surgeries were postponed by COVID-19 earlier this year.

“We saw massive spikes and places like dentist offices, chiropractic offices,” he said. “(Those claims), they're still elevated but have more or less returned to normal.”

Despite recovery in health and service, job growth has been slow in other industries like construction since the summer.

“Construction has really surprised me,” Gedney said. “That recovery rate's going to be a little lower.”

The industry had some positive gains in October but also experienced losses in September. Gedney said it’s normal to see a loss in construction jobs start during this time of year because of the weather.