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Colorado’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate in January was 4.1%, down a tenth of a percentage point from December 2021 and the lowest rate since February 2020, prior to the COVID-19 outbreak.

“During this recession, it took only 20 months to move from the peak rate, which was 11.8% in May of 2020, to 4.1%,” Colorado Department of Labor and Employment. senior economist Ryan Gedney said Monday after CLDE released its most-recent employment data. “In comparison, 41 months passed between the peak rate and 4.1% during the early 2000s recession, and 51 months elapsed when looking at the Great Recession and the jobless rate of 4.1%.”

Colorado’s recovery rate is 11th fastest in the nation.

In the Boulder Valley and Northern Colorado regions, Broomfield and Boulder counties led the way, with non-seasonally adjusted jobless rates of 3.1%.

Larimer County was slightly above its neighbors to the south with 3.3%, and Weld County’s January rate was 4.2%.

The ongoing shrinkage in the labor market in the energy sector could be a factor in Northern Colorado’s slower recovery.

The energy sector shed about 2,400 jobs as the pandemic spread across the globe in early 2020, resulting in plummeting oil prices. Since early 2020, the logging and mining sector — of which oil and gas operations dominate in Colorado — has lost another 4,400 jobs.

“There hasn’t been a rebound in jobs even as crude-oil prices have more than doubled,” Gedney said. “It’s uncertain how the recent volatility in the energy market will impact Colorado’s oil and gas sector in 2022.”

Half of the state’s 18 industry sectors — including those with major presences in the Boulder Valley and parts of Northern Colorado such as finance and insurance services, transportation and utilities, professional and scientific services, management, construction and manufacturing — have matched or surpassed pre-pandemic employment levels.

Colorado’s labor force increased by 16,700 in January to 3,187,400, good for a participation rate of 68.5% and better than the national average.

The average workweek for all Colorado employees on private nonfarm payrolls increased from 33.5 to 33.6 hours over the past year and average hourly earnings increased from $31.12 to $34.27, according to CDLE data.

The state is expected to release preliminary figures on February’s unemployment situation this month.

This article was first published by BizWest, an independent news organization, and is published under a license agreement. © 2022 BizWest Media LLC.

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