By Jamie Leary

DENVER (CBS4) – Colorado’s unemployment rate is seeing a slow rebound from its pandemic-related crash, but the overall health of the economy has some hurdles to jump before it makes a full recovery.

“Colorado is still a little over two percent down in terms of employment levels relative to pre-pandemic and so we still have a long way to go,” said Chris Brown, Vice President of Policy and Research for the Common Sense Institute.

(credit: CBS)

The latest jobs report from the University of Colorado’s Leeds School of Business shows jobs won’t fully bounce back for the next several years and experts say the labor market is still volatile.

“What has been incredible over just the last couple months has been seeing the sort of continued and lingering aftershocks of the economic shutdown and hardship we saw in 2020, and that is resonated in the labor market, and Colorado has faced very high levels of separation particularly people quitting their jobs now,” Brown said.

“At the moment, we continue to see strong employment growth month over month, and we hope to see that continue, but this represents a lot of churn in the labor market as people look to possibly find better employment opportunities, wages are slightly up, job opportunities continue to grow, so we hope this trend of employment growth continues, but some of the information particularly as it relates to inflation and overall prices and quit rates is slightly concerning.”

(credit: CBS)

According to the report, Colorado is projected to add 87,600 jobs in 2021, or growth of 3.3%. Growth of 2.7% is projected in 2022, with the state adding 73,900 jobs and effectively reaching a new record employment level in the state.

Still, key industries in the state, like leisure and hospitality, are projected to take longer to fully recover.

“We forecast employment numbers to grow in all 11 industries in 2022, but the hole left by the COVID-19 pandemic in the leisure and hospitality industry is huge,” said Richard Wobbekind, senior economist at the Leeds School of Business. “We don’t anticipate the leisure and hospitality industry to return to pre-pandemic levels until 2023 or 2024.”

Despite ongoing challenges, the leisure and hospitality industry is projected to grow most in 2022, adding 31,700 jobs (10.4%).

Jamie Leary