Low-wage workers in Colorado continue to bear the brunt of the pandemic’s economic fallout even as high-wage jobs bounce back, according to a report from the Colorado Center on Law and Policy.
The state has gained back about half of 300,000 jobs lost when stay-at-home orders were first imposed in March and April, the report found. High-wage jobs are almost fully recovered to the levels of January 2020, while low-wage jobs are still down 17.6 percent.
Employment in the accommodation and food sector — typically among the lowest-paid jobs in the state — declined 40 percent from February to November, the most of any sector, the report found. By contrast, employment in finance and insurance has gained 2.6 percent.
A recovery that took hold when businesses reopened in May and June has stalled out as COVID-19 cases surge. Preliminary estimates show that Colorado lost nearly 7,000 jobs in November, the report found.
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The current downturn is unprecedented in its depth and pace. During the previous two recessions, jobs were lost and regained over a period of years, not months, according to the report. Historically, it takes between 50 and 60 months to fully recover jobs lost during a recession, the report found.
The data suggests that even when all COVID-19 restrictions are lifted, the damage will persist.
“It will still take a number of months, if not years, to fully recover the jobs that were lost,” wrote Charlie Brennan and Lauren Contorno, co-authors of the report.