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Colorado’s unemployment rate remains flat at 6.2%

About half of gains came in the leisure and hospitality sector

Unemployment in Colorado remained essentially flat in June, the state’s labor department said last week, marking the 15th consecutive month that the economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic has kept the statewide unemployment rate above 6% – a level more than double the pre-pandemic rate, which averaged 2.7% in 2019.

Colorado employers reported adding about 10,500 payroll jobs in June, according to the latest monthly report released by the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment. About half of those gains came in the leisure and hospitality sector, which continues to recover amid the widespread lifting of pandemic-related public health restrictions. Of the 86,200 private-sector jobs added in Colorado in the first six months of 2021, about 50,300 have come in the food service and entertainment industries, the report said.

Despite the payroll growth, slightly fewer Coloradans reported being employed in June than in May, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ monthly household survey, meaning the state’s unemployment rate stayed flat at 6.2%.

That’s slightly higher than the national unemployment rate of 5.9%, but CDLE officials say that the difference can be explained in part by Colorado’s relatively high labor force participation rate – a BLS statistic that measures both those who are employed and those who are actively looking for work. Because more unemployed people in Colorado are searching for a job, rather than exiting the labor force altogether, the state’s unemployment rate appears higher than many others, said CDLE senior economist Ryan Gedney.

“Colorado’s relatively fast recovery in the participation rate is a driving factor in keeping the state’s unemployment rate elevated compared to the rest of the nation,” Gedney said in a press call Friday. “If the U.S. had a rate of recovery in the labor force participation rate similar to Colorado’s, the national unemployment rate would increase from 5.9% to 8.1%.”

In May, state officials announced the launch of the “Colorado Jumpstart” incentive program, which offered up to $1,600 to unemployed Coloradans who returned to work in May and June and remained employed for at least eight weeks. To date, more than 18,000 unemployment-insurance claimants have opted into the program, and 7,417 people have been paid the first installment in their incentive, CDLE Executive Director Joe Barela said Friday.

To read more stories from Colorado Newsline, visit www.coloradonewsline.com.