Colorado unemployment rate decreases to 10.2% after adding 68,800 jobs

DENVER — Colorado’s unemployment rate dropped from a revised record rate of 12.2% in April to 10.2% in May after the state recovered 68,800 jobs as it transitioned from stay-at-home orders to more permissive efforts to control the spread of coronavirus.

The Colorado Department of Labor and Employment’s monthly employment report released Friday shows that the majority of gained jobs in the month came from leisure and hospitality, which totalled approximately 29,700, and education and health at approximately 23,000 jobs. Manufacturing, construction and professional services also gained between 5,000 to 6,500 jobs over the period.

About 8,400 state residents added themselves among the active labor force last month, bringing Colorado’s total to a little more than 3.06 million.

In a call with reporters, CDLE senior economist Ryan Gedney said while there have been revisions to unemployment rates in prior months, the recovery in the unemployment rate looks to be in line with the weekly initial claims and continuing claims data. “The trends are fitting pretty well,” he said.

However, the slight decrease in unemployment pales in comparison to the state’s 2.9% unemployment rate at the start of 2020 and indicates that thousands are still waiting to return to work as Colorado moves toward another phase of reopening this week. The leisure industry shed 148,100 jobs in the month prior, meaning May’s recovery brought approximately one in five employees back to their workplaces.

Gedney said the prior week’s payout for regular benefits was around $84 million and the state’s unemployment trust fund now stands between $500 million and $550 million. The department is now projecting the fund will go insolvent in late August or early September instead of the late June period that it previously expected.

At the county level, Boulder County’s unemployment rate declined from 9.7% to 8.2% between April and May. Broomfield County’s rate fell from 11.1% to 9.6%, Larimer County fell from 11.1% to 8.6% and Weld County fell from 9.9% to 8.6% in that same time period.

Every county in the region saw its active labor force figures increase at varying levels except for Weld, which fell by 96 active job seekers.

The U.S. Department of Labor reported the national unemployment rate decreased 1.4% from April to 13.3% in May.

Labor officials perform the monthly survey to determine unemployment rates on the 12th of each month, meaning Friday’s data is on a multi-week lag from current conditions.

This story has been updated.