Colorado Employment Situation April 2020

For Immediate Release

Date: May 22, 2020/ 8:00 A.M.
Contact: Office of Government and Public Relations

Important note: This release provides information on industry employment and labor force statistics for April 2020, the most current estimates available from the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment. The reference period for the establishment and household surveys was the pay period or week that includes the 12th of the month. Therefore, this release provides an estimate of Colorado’s employment situation during the first full month of efforts to contain COVID-19 within the state and associated impacts. For more information on Colorado unemployment insurance claims activity and related statistics, please visit For information regarding impacts to Bureau of Labor Statistics data collection and processing during the pandemic, go to


Nonfarm payroll jobs in Colorado declined by 323,500 from March to April to 2,473,400 jobs, according to the survey of business establishments. Government declined by 12,100 payroll jobs and the private sector lost 311,400. March estimates were revised down to 2,796,900, and the over the month change from February to March was a decrease of 16,500 rather than the originally estimated decrease of 3,900.

According to the survey of households, the unemployment rate increased six and one-tenth of a percentage point in April to 11.3 percent. This is the highest unemployment rate for Colorado since comparable records began in 1976. The prior record high was 8.9 percent (September to December 2010). Additionally, the previously reported March 2020 unemployment rate of 4.5 percent was revised up to 5.2 percent.

The number of people actively participating in the labor force in April decreased 67,400 over the month to 3,069,200 and the number of people reporting themselves as employed decreased 251,200 to 2,721,300. The larger decrease in total employment than in labor force caused the number of unemployed to increase 183,800 and the unemployment rate to increase to 11.3 percent.

The national unemployment rate increased ten and three-tenths of a percentage point in April to 14.7 percent. This is the highest unemployment rate for the U.S. since comparable records began in 1948. The previous record high was 10.8 percent (November to December 1982).

Over the year, the average workweek for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls increased from 32.7 to 32.8 hours and average hourly earnings increased from $30.35 to $31.98.

Significant over the month private sector declines occurred in leisure and hospitality               (-148,100), education and health services (-43,800), trade, transportation, and utilities           (-41,800), professional and business services (-28,500), other services (-19,800), construction (-12,700), manufacturing (-10,300), financial activities (-5,500), and mining and logging (-1,000). There were no significant over the month private sector job gains in April.

Over the year, nonfarm payroll jobs decreased 296,200, with a decline of 296,200 in the private sector and no change in government. The largest private sector job losses were in leisure and hospitality, education and health services, and trade, transportation, and utilities. There were no private sector over the year job gains.

Over the year, the unemployment rate is up eight and four-tenths of a percentage point from 2.9 percent. The number of Coloradans participating in the labor force decreased 58,100, total employment decreased 315,100 and the number of unemployed increased 257,000. The national unemployment rate increased from 3.6 percent in April 2019 to 14.7 percent in April 2020.


All Colorado estimates from the establishment and household surveys, including greater geographic detail, are available at: Estimates for all states and the nation are available at:

The May 2020 Colorado Employment Situation will be released at 8:00 AM on Friday, June 19, 2020. The full schedule of release dates for calendar year 2020 estimates is available at


Nonfarm payroll jobs estimates are based on a survey of business establishments and government agencies, and are intended to measure the number of jobs, not the number of people employed. Other series based on this survey include private sector average weekly hours, average hourly earnings and average weekly earnings.

The unemployment rate, labor force, labor force participation, total employment and the number of unemployed are based on a survey of households. The total employment estimate derived from this survey is intended to measure the number of people employed.

The business establishment survey covers about seven times the number of households surveyed and is therefore considered a more reliable indicator of economic conditions. Because the estimates are based on two separate surveys, one measuring jobs by worksite and the other measuring persons employed and unemployed by household, estimates based on these surveys may provide seemingly conflicting results.