Colorado’s unemployment rose sharply to 4.5% in March, surpassing the U.S. unemployment rate for the first time since June 2005, according to a monthly update from the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment.
The state’s unemployment went from a historic low of 2.5% in February to 4.5% in March, its highest mark since August 2015. The U.S. unemployment rate went from 3.5% to 4.4%.
Because employers are surveyed on the week that includes the 12th day of the month, the report captured only the earliest days of the economic slow down because of the pandemic. The brunt of losses will be contained in the April employment report, which comes out in a month.
Gov. Jared Polis declared a state of emergency on March 10, ordered ski resorts closed on March 14, restaurants and bars closed March 16, salons and nonessential medical procedures closed on March 19. A statewide stay-at-home order that closed all other nonessential businesses didn’t come down until March 26.
A household survey found the number of people who were unemployed and actively looking for work in Colorado rose from 80,300 in February to 142,600 in March. Employers in Colorado cut a net 3,900 jobs from their payrolls on a seasonally adjusted basis, according to a business survey. That isn’t enough to explain the gain of 62,300 unemployed workers.
In the four weeks through April 11, the state has received 231,610 initial claims for unemployment benefits. Adding those new claims to those who were unemployed in the middle of March would push the state’s unemployment rate closer to 12%. That’s not counting self-employed workers and others who haven’t applied for benefits yet.
Revisions to the February employment report show things were already starting to slow heading into the crisis. Initial estimates were that Colorado employers had added 3,100 jobs in February. But revisions knocked that down to a loss of 400 jobs.
Only three sectors didn’t report smaller payrolls on a seasonally adjusted basis in March compared to February. They were government, up 2,100 jobs; professional and technical services, also up 2,100 jobs, and information, up 100 jobs.
The heaviest monthly losses came in other services, down 2,200 jobs; educational and health services, down 2,100 jobs; leisure and hospitality, down 1,500 jobs, and manufacturing, down 1,000 jobs.
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