December Job Numbers Released

“The rise in the unemployment rate is most likely tied to temporary job losses connected to leisure and hospitality occupations which were impacted by numerous counties going to the red dial in mid-to-late November,” stated Ryan Gedney, a Senior Economist with the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment (CDLE) during the regular media call on January 22, 2020.

Construction and utility workers have stayed busy through 2020 in Saguache.

While the fact came as no surprise to most journalists covering the COVID-19 story, the statement was one of the most direct and a fact not likely to be found in any of the official press releases (in full below) distributed by the state agencies created to gather labor data. In fact, according to the results from the monthly household survey, Colorado’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate went up significantly, moving from 6.4 % in November to 8.4% in December 2020.

“That rate is the highest since June 2020 when Colorado’s jobless rate was 10.6%,” reported Gedney. Additionally, in December the state’s 8.4% unemployment rate exceeded that of the country’s 6.4%. It’s a chilling first since the economic impact of the world’s pandemic shutdown first began in March 2020.

Closer to home, Saguache County’s unemployment rate stands at 9.2% in December 2020.

Media Call: Unemployment Situation

Thanks to 9News for the video share of the January 22, 2020 media call with CDLE staff. This version contains more Q & A, like when CDLE will mail out 1099s for tax purposes (early February) as well as more details surrounding the recent fraud allegations for UI recipients and what legitimate folks can do to make sure they get their benefits through the new system which they rolled out last week.

The video is an hour-long but answers some reporter questions not addressed in the official CDLE video report. Readers can also view the official press release with links and info below.

Latest Labor Numbers Issued

On January 22, 2020, the Colorado Employment Situation for December 2020 was distributed by the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment (CDLE). Statewide, private-sector payroll jobs decreased by 5,900, while the government shed 1,000 jobs. This ends a six-month streak of consecutive job gains in Colorado. Readers can find some economic highlights, and a peek at how neighboring counties are doing on the COVID jobs rebound in the data provided below. The FULL Colorado Employment Situation Release for December 2020.

Household survey data

According to the survey of households, Colorado’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate increased in December to 8.4 percent. The national unemployment rate was unchanged from November at 6.7 percent.

Other highlights from the household survey:

  • Colorado’s labor force grew by 42,400 in December to 3,212,600. The labor force participation rate increased by eight-tenths of a percentage point to 69.0 percent. The share of Coloradans participating in the labor force reached its highest level since February when it was 69.4 percent.
  • The number of individuals employed in Colorado decreased by 24,400 in December to 2,943,400, which represents 63.3 percent of the state’s 16+ population. Colorado’s employment-to-population ratio is relatively flat since September.
  • The Colorado counties with the highest unemployment rates in December were: Pueblo (11.3%), Huerfano (11.0%), Gilpin (10.6%), Costilla (10.1%), and Clear Creek (9.6%). County-level unemployment rates are not seasonally adjusted and are directly comparable to Colorado’s December unadjusted rate of 8.2 percent.

Establishment Survey Data

Nonfarm payroll jobs in Colorado declined by 20,300 from November to December for a total of 2,662,600 jobs, according to the survey of business establishments. Private-sector payroll jobs decreased by 20,600, while the government added 300 jobs. With December job losses, Colorado has gained back 191,500 of the 342,300 nonfarm payroll jobs lost between February and April. That translates to a job recovery rate of 55.9 percent, which marginally exceeds the U.S. rate of 55.6 percent.

Other highlights from the establishment survey:

  • November estimates were revised up to 2,682,900, and the over the month change from October to November was a loss of 4,700 rather than the originally estimated decrease of 6,900 (monthly revisions are based on additional responses from businesses and government agencies since the last published estimates).
    Private industry sectors with significant job gains in December were: trade, transportation, and utilities (~10,200), professional and business services (~5,100), education and health services (~1,100), and construction (~1,000). Significant over the month private-sector job loss occurred in leisure and hospitality (~36,100).
  • Since December 2019, nonfarm payroll jobs have decreased 150,900, with losses totaling 120,100 in the private sector and 30,800 in government. The largest private-sector job losses were in leisure and hospitality (~91,500), education and health services (~16,700), and other services (~8,000), and Colorado’s rate of job loss over the past year is -5.4 percent, compared to the U.S. rate of -6.2 percent.
    Over the year, the average workweek for all Colorado employees on private nonfarm payrolls decreased from 33.8 to 33.3 hours, while average hourly earnings rose from $31.00 to $31.18, over a dollar and thirty cents more than the national average hourly earnings of $29.81.
  • All Colorado estimates from the establishment and household surveys, including greater geographic detail, are available at: Estimates for all states and the nation are available at:

The January 2021 Colorado Employment Situation will be released at 8:00 AM on Monday, March 15, 2021. Revised statewide estimates for 2020 and 2019 and some updated local information will also be released. The full schedule of release dates for calendar year 2021 estimates is available at

UI Claims and Featured Jobs

On Friday, Jan. 22, the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment (CDLE) reported that due to the deployment of its new online unemployment benefits system, and impacts to underlying reports, there are currently no new claims or benefit payment data available to report for the week ending January 16th. CDLE anticipates that new UI claims data will be available for the January 28 media update.

Helping Coloradans with Reemployment Support

In other labor news, the following training and resources for job seekers are available. CDLE and its partners hold regular, no-cost training that can help unemployed Coloradans get rehired. A sampling of events is below and a complete list of events, workshops and training opportunities is available on the CDLE website.

Who’s Hiring

There are more than 70,000 jobs available in, the state’s jobs database. In fact the total number of open jobs as of December 12, 2020 was 65,119! So if you’re looking for something new and better, there is opportunity. Here are the job titles which are posted most often:

  • CDL-A truck drivers (3,728)
  • Registered nurses (900)
  • Customer service representatives (824)
  • Industries hiring: While many industries are hiring, the top three were:
    • Administrative and support and waste management and remediation services (26,859)
    • Professional, scientific, and technical services (20,480)
    • Retail trade (18,679)

The Colorado Department of Labor and Employment and the Office of the Future of Work publish a weekly series to share hiring trends and highlight online and in-person resources to connect workers with meaningful employment. This week, the article gives an update on last week’s job postings and the 2020 Talent Pipeline Report released by CWDC and the TalentFound Network. Read the latest article here.

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