Businesses in Colorado added just 13,400 non-farm jobs in September, pointing to a slowdown in the recovery from the pandemic-created wave of unemployment earlier in the year.
The Colorado Department of Labor and Employment said Tuesday that private payrolls grew by 20,800 in the month, but those were offset by 7,400 cuts to public-sector establishments. Leisure and hospitality businesses added about 8,000 new jobs after a spring of stay-at-home orders shook the industry, while trade, transport and utilities firms added about 6,000 jobs.
The only private sector to experience a notable drop was construction, which shed 1,300 jobs between August and September.
The state’s unemployment rate is now 6.4%, a small decline from August’s 6.7%.
In a call with reporters, department senior economist Ryan Gedney said the leisure and hospitality sector lost the largest share of jobs in the early weeks of the pandemic and were the fastest to recover en masse.
The department will continue to monitor how increasing COVID cases in the state, along with reduced capacity, will affect the industry’s ability to stay solvent.
“What kind of capacity and demand are they going to be able to meet with the colder weather? Will they have the ability to set up tents and heaters, or are they just going to rely on takeouts? I think that’ll be a big driver, maybe not for October, but certainly for the other months in November and December,” he said.
The state’s labor force increased by 59,600 in the month to a total of 3,147,400 compared to the 3,186,341 residents in the labor force back in February before the pandemic. That decline means just under 39,000 Coloradans are both unemployed and not actively seeking work.
At the county level, Larimer County’s unemployment rate declined from 5.6% in August to 5.2% in September, while Weld declined from 6.6% to 6.3% in the same period. Boulder County unemployment fell from 5.8% in August to 5.3% in September, while Broomfield County fell from 6% to 5.5% in the same period.
Fort Collins and Boulder had the lowest unemployment rates out of the state’s various metropolitan areas at 5.2% and 5.3% respectively.
Labor force participation increased in every county after flat growth in that category between July and August. Larimer County saw approximately 6,000 people return to or join the workforce between August and September, while Weld County saw approximately 3,750. Boulder and Broomfield counties saw labor force figures increase by approximately 3,500 and 670 people in the same period.
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