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Colorado's unemployment rate fell to 6.7% in August as state added nearly 37K jobs

Posted at 5:29 PM, Sep 18, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-18 19:29:27-04

DENVER – Colorado employers added 36,900 nonfarm payroll jobs in August, which dropped the state’s seasonally-adjusted unemployment rate to 6.7% last month – down from 7.4% in July, Colorado Department of Labor and Employment officials said Friday.

After the added jobs last month, Colorado has gained back 178,500 of the 342,300 payroll jobs lost in March and April – about 52% of the jobs lost in that time frame and the 24th fastest rate of recovery among U.S. states during that period, said CDLE senior economist Ryan Gedney.

Comparatively, the U.S. has added back about 48% of jobs lost during that same timeframe.

Another 26,000 Coloradans became employed in August, meaning about 62.2% of Coloradans aged 16 and up are employed – up from 58.3% in April but below the pre-pandemic level in February of 67.7%, when unemployment in Colorado was at an all-time low.

Colorado’s non-seasonally-adjusted unemployment rate was 6.6%. County-wise, Denver moved into the top five highest rates in the state among that rate and now sits at No. 5, with a 7.9% non-seasonally-adjusted rate.

Gilpin (10.7%), Huerfano (9.4%), Summit (8.1%) and Costilla (7.9%) accounted for the counties with the highest non-seasonally-adjusted rates in August.

There were solid gains in private industry sectors that have struggled during the pandemic. Leisure and hospitality, which includes restaurants, bars and hotels, gained around 10,000 jobs last month. Education and health services gained 7,100 jobs, and trade, transportation and utilities gained roughly 6,100 jobs and there were no significant losses month-over-month in most industries, the CDLE said.

Government jobs increased by 10,400 last month, with some of those jobs attribute to a surge in U.S. Census temporary workers. Gedney said that about 50% of Coloradans who are unemployed remain on temporary unemployment, compared to 30% permanently unemployed from their previous job – which was mostly unchanged from July.

And the share of workers currently working part time but who want full-time jobs jumped to 8% in August – about 240,000 workers, Gedney said. He said a possible explanation for that resurgence – the figure is the same as it was in May – could be a reduction in people’s hours tied to the start of the school year and child care needs, as anyone working less than 35 hours a week is considered part-time by CDLE standards.

Year-over-year, nonfarm payroll jobs have decreased by 147,800 – a job loss rate of -5.3%, compared to the U.S. rate of -6.8% from August 2019 to August 2020.

Colorado’s unemployment rate continues to beat the national average, which was 8.4% in August. Neighboring Nebraska had the lowest August unemployment rate, at 4%, and Nevada had the highest, at 13.2%.

Last week, there were again falling numbers of initial claims for regular unemployment (5,025) and Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (1,533), and the state paid out $58.3 million in regular unemployment benefits. In total, the state has paid out nearly $5 billion in regular, PUA, Pandemic Unemployment Compensation, Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation and State Extended benefits.

The state also started paying Lost Wages Assistance benefits – the federal $300 a week added benefit for people who are eligible for at least $100 a week in regular unemployment or PUA benefits – to people who qualify on Friday