Colorado had the highest layoff rate in the nation in December, but fewer people quit their jobs

Looks like omicron made an impact on Colorado employers in December. New monthly data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics this week ranked the state as the highest in the nation for layoff rates, tied with Alaska for first place.

An estimated 1.6% of Colorado’s workforce was laid off in December, double the US average of 0.8%. That’s up from September, when Colorado had the same rate as the United States at 0.9%, according to the BLS Job Openings and Job Turnover Survey, which is not only a small sample of the labor force, but which is used as a tool to assess economic health.

The trend is supported by state unemployment figures over the same period. According to the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment, the number of people filing first unemployment claims increased in early December. The numbers dipped at the end of the month but rose again in early January, likely due to the rise of the omicron variant of COVID.

And while Colorado had the highest layoff rates in December, keep in mind it was 1.6%, up from 2.1% in December 2020.

Ryan Gedney, senior economist at the state Department of Labor, always cautions that we shouldn’t read too much into a single month of jobs data. In August, Colorado also had the highest layoff rate in the nation in the JOLTS report. As we are still in a pandemic, monthly highs and lows may not mean much over time.

He offered some context on the state’s unemployment rate in December, which at 4.8% was higher than the nation’s 3.9%.

“The recovery in the state’s unemployment rate during the pandemic recession was significantly faster than the last two recessions,” Gedney said at a press conference in January. “During this recession, it took only 20 months in Colorado for the unemployment rate to drop from the peak rate, which was 12.1% in April 2020, to 4.8%. In comparison, 30 months elapsed between the peak rate and 4.8% during the recession of the early 2000s, while 45 months elapsed when looking at the Great Recession and the fall in the peak rate (from 9 .4%) to 4.8%.

Colorado may be ahead of US trends again. In October, Colorado led the nation with the highest rate of people quitting their jobs, at 4.0% compared to 2.8% for the nation. That’s slowed down, at least here, with Colorado ranking 34th, with a dropout rate of 3% compared to 2.9% for the nation.

For what it’s worth, initial jobless claims are coming down. In the week ended February 12, new jobless claims fell 10.6% from the previous week to 1,976, about the same weekly average as in 2019. The number of claims continues is now below 19,000 per week, which is also similar to the 2019 averages.

Companies are still hiring

While some of the job openings posted on the state bulletin board may be duplicated or questionable, as of Friday there were still 123,944 open positions on

And data from JOLTS shows that Colorado is still above average when it comes to hiring rates and job openings, at least compared to other states. Colorado is tied at three for the 10th highest ratio of job offers to jobs sum.

Perhaps that’s why Joe Bradshaw, operations manager of TenderCare assisted living facilities in Denver, continues to struggle to find help. As we learned in October, Bradshaw had provided $100 bonuses to workers who showed up on time for the first two weeks. He hadn’t paid one for two years.

“I hired five girls in the last six days. Four of them went through the onboarding process, they came to HR, went through all the policies and procedures and got their job numbers and everything. that, and then none of them showed up for their shift,” Bradshaw said when I checked in on his stuff this week. “Only one of them showed up to be trained. …Why would someone show up and go through all these procedures and then ghost you?

Bradshaw said he has raised salaries by 20% to 25% since the pandemic and is paying entry-level social workers $16 to $20 an hour. He’s tired of posting jobs on Indeed or Zip Recruiter because they’re not producing the people he needs (he said he gets about two to three applicants a day).

The reasons are probably due to the number of opportunities still available. As you may recall from a previous What’s Working column, economist Luke Pardue of payroll service provider Gusto pointed out that the job market is still very competitive, so people keep leaving their jobs and to move on to gigs that offer more money or at least a better working environment. .

Gusto sees small business owners reducing work hours in order to retain as many as possible while balancing the negative financial impact of the ongoing COVID disruptions.

“It’s really hard to predict what’s going to happen in two weeks, but in a year,” Pardue said. “And each new wave we see brings more pain to small businesses and their workers. But we’re seeing small business owners becoming more adaptable and nimble and how they adapt to each new curve that comes their way and that’s happened more recently in the form of just adjusting worker hours rather than to fire them.

→ Too few people to work? I’ve wondered about this before, and now labor market analyst firm EMSI is looking at why our workforce is shrinking: baby boomers have retired, fewer babies are being born, and the rate of participation in the country’s labor force has not recovered. >> REPORT

The future of remote work

More companies that went to remote work after spending their pre-pandemic lives in office buildings are now embracing what could be the best of both worlds: the hybrid office.

I wrote about the trend this week. According to data from commercial real estate broker CBRE, 87% of office customers nationwide intend to allow employees to work remotely a few days a week. It ends up being almost two days a week compared to 0.6 days before the pandemic.

What if it was your office? Block 162’s “Sky Terrace,” the new 15th and California office tower in downtown Denver, is only 20% leased as of February 2022. This floor is open to tenants for meetings only , work, socialization and exercise. In addition, there is a magnificent view, being 11 floors. (Provided by block 162)

That’s already a reality for some downtown Denver businesses that have returned to the office but aren’t requiring employees to drop by daily. And it’s impacting business for owners of commercial buildings, like the new 30-story 162 Block near 15th and California streets. The developer is working with clients to redesign new office space, which often includes “guesthouse” desks for walk-in employees and uniformly sized desks so not every executive has a large office desk. ‘angle.

“Many (tenants) have decided to take up less space than they previously occupied,” said David Haltom, senior vice president of Patrinely Group, owner and developer of the building.

>> READ: Welcome back, friends from the Denver office – or whoever shows up for work on any given day

Other work bits

→ Grocery strike averted – The same union that helped workers at King Soopers win a pay rise last month (after a very public nine-day strike) has reached a tentative agreement for workers at Safeway and Albertsons in Colorado. United Food and Commercial Workers Local 7 called the three-year contract the “richest” in the country, but did not share details. The union’s 5,400 members at dozens of grocery stores in Colorado and Rock Springs, Wyoming, will vote on the contract next week. >> UPDATES

→ Other states are learning about entrepreneurship – We previously reported that Colorado saw a record number of new business filings during the pandemic. Other states, however, have seen even greater growth, according to analysis from a company that connects customers to loans. >> REPORT

→ Tech is still experiencing a massive labor crisis — It was bad before the pandemic, as tech companies were looking for more skilled workers. An article from the New York Times shares an update of what it is today: “Estimates for the unemployment rate for tech workers are around 1.7%, compared to around 4% in the economy. general; for those with expertise in cybersecurity, it is more like 0.2%”. >> NY TIMES

→ Debate on pay equity — Curious to hear what outsiders think about Colorado’s pay transparency law? (The one that requires employers to post salaries and pay scales on job postings). Check out this discussion on Hacker News. >> WIRE

I’m looking for people who have opened a recent bill or looked at the cash register and realized that you are paying a lot more for (insert good or service here) than before. What’s your story? Share it as I dive deeper into the impact of inflation on our lives. Thanks for reading. ~Tamara

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