DENVER (KDVR) — Unemployment claims in the U.S. fell to a pre-pandemic low, with only 360,000 claims filed last week.
While it’s seemingly good nationally, the unemployment rate here in Colorado stayed the same over the past month. But state employment leaders said that doesn’t mean more people aren’t getting back to work.
The answer to why Colorado’s unemployment rate is still higher than the nation’s is complicated, but leaders said the main reason for the difference is the way the rate is calculated.
“Our Colorado seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was unchanged in 6.2%,” said Ryan Gedney, senior economist with the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment. “While the number of unemployed individuals did drop by 2,000 last month, the unemployment rate remained unchanged due to rounding.”
The state says if 700 more people would have joined the workforce, the rate would have fallen to 6.1%.
That would still be higher than the nation’s 5.9% rate, but leaders said that’s because of the way Colorado measures active workers.
“Colorado’s relatively fast recovery in the participation rate is a relatively driving factor in keeping the state’s unemployment rate elevated compared to the rest of the nation. 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%,” Gedney said.
Despite the drop in workers, the state is reporting an increase of nearly 11,000 jobs from May to June in sectors like leisure and hospitality, food services, arts and entertainment.
The jobs are coming back as things slowly return to normal, but the state warns new people applying for unemployment: processing speeds will go back to normal, too — that means four to six weeks.
Agency leaders say those changes could be coming as soon as August.