Statewide unemployment continues decline, now at 5.4%

DENVER — The statewide unemployment rate in Colorado declined again in October, to 5.4%, as the state continues its recovery from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Yet many jobs are going unfilled, and nationwide, employers are feeling the effects of what has been called The Great Resignation.

The Colorado Department of Labor and Employment released its October numbers Friday, which showed that seasonally adjusted unemployment fell two-tenths of a percentage point in October. That mirrored the national unemployment rate drop, which also fell two-tenths of a point to 4.6%.

The employment situation, despite the improvement in the unemployment rate, remains unsettled, which really isn’t new; it predates the pandemic, said Adam Crowe, business development manager at the Larimer County Workforce Center. Crowe spoke with BizWest before the October numbers were released.

“We’ve had a labor shortage for a decade,” Crowe said. Some additional issues may be at play now, but employers have struggled for several years to find the people that they need, he said.

Pay is one issue, although not so much among higher-skilled positions. For entry-level positions, pay has definitely been an issue, and employers are finding that raising entry-level pay can make a difference in hiring, he said.

Employers are experiencing the phenomenon of people resigning their positions. “That has more to do with work/life balance, with desire for flexibility in work, and because people can get those things at the same or better pay elsewhere,” he said.

Some employers have taken to paying retention bonuses. Crowe said the jury is still out on whether such incentives work. “They may keep someone around for six months, but employers still need to address issues around culture.”

Crowe also said that employers did not see a flood of applications when the supplemental unemployment payments, provided by the federal government through much of the pandemic, went away in September. “People figured out how to live on less income; we are seeing that some employers are having better luck filling part time positions over full time,” he said.

The CDLE in its report Friday said that the state’s labor force increased by 3,400 in October to nearly 3.2 million. The number of employed grew by 11,900 during the month to more than 3 million, or about 64.5% of the state’s population over age 16.

Pueblo County continued to have the highest unemployment rate at 6.8%.

Boulder County led the northern region with a 3.5% unemployment rate, down from 3.7% the month prior.

Broomfield scored a 3.7% unemployment rate, down from 3.8% in September.

Larimer was at 3.8% unemployment in October, down from 3.9%.

And Weld County reduced its unemployment rate from 4.9% in September to 4.6% in October.

Some September unemployment rates were revised to incorporate population from the American Community Survey.

The leisure and hospitality sector statewide saw job gains during the month with an estimated 6,800 jobs added back in that category. 

The Larimer County Workforce Center has ramped up efforts to help employers by offering workshops on skills-based hiring, which is meant to place people in jobs when they have skills but might not have the university credentials to match. The center is also helping employers write help wanted advertisements in a manner that might help bridge the gap between jobs seekers and available jobs, Crowe said.

As a professional in the employment field, Crowe said he and others like him are continuing to learn new things about how the pandemic has affected the workforce.

“There are a lot of things that we won’t know until 10 years from now,” Crowe said, commenting that “we’ll be reading a book about it and suddenly realize” what may have caused the circumstances employers faced.

© 2021 BizWest Media LLC

DENVER — The statewide unemployment rate in Colorado declined again in October, to 5.4%, as the state continues its recovery from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Yet many jobs are going unfilled, and nationwide, employers are feeling the effects of what has been called The Great Resignation.

The Colorado Department of Labor and Employment released its October numbers Friday, which showed that seasonally adjusted unemployment fell two-tenths of a percentage point in October. That mirrored the national unemployment rate drop, which also fell two-tenths of a point to 4.6%.

The employment situation, despite the improvement in the unemployment rate, remains unsettled, which really isn’t new; it predates the pandemic, said Adam Crowe, business development manager at the Larimer County Workforce Center. Crowe spoke with BizWest before the October numbers were released.

“We’ve had a labor shortage for a decade,” Crowe said. Some additional issues may be at play now, but employers have struggled for several years to find the people that they need, he said.

Pay is one issue, although not so much among higher-skilled positions. For entry-level positions, pay has definitely been an issue, and employers are finding that raising entry-level pay can make a difference in hiring, he said.

Employers are experiencing the phenomenon of people resigning their positions. “That has more to do with work/life balance, with desire for flexibility in work, and because people can get those things at the same or better pay elsewhere,” he said.

Some employers have taken to paying retention bonuses. Crowe said…