Unemployment form

New unemployment claims for the week ending July 24 were the lowest since March 2020.

Colorado’s unemployment rate for June stayed the same from May at 6.2%, the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment reported Friday.

That's higher than the national rate of 5.9%. But it still remains the lowest level since March 2020, when the COVID-19 pandemic shut down whole industries and restricted many businesses.

The unemployment numbers come from a survey of households. A separate larger survey of businesses showed the state added 10,800 jobs from May to June, and 154,100 since June 2020. With June seeing a statewide level of 2.72 million jobs, that’s about 100,000 short of the peak 2.82 million jobs notched in January 2020. The share of Coloradans participating in the labor force was 68.5% in June, just below the pre-pandemic February 2020 rate of 68.7%, according to the department.

That’s the third highest participation rate in the nation, said Ryan Gedney, senior economist, in a press conference Friday.

“We expect to see the labor force participation rebound for the rest of the year,” Gedney said.

The department also provided updated numbers on the 18,600 Coloradans who returned to work under the “Jumpstart” program, which offered bonuses of $1,600 if they hold those positions.

“More than $5.2 million was paid for the first installment,” said Executive Director Joe Barela.

Barela also reminded claimants that pandemic-related federal assistance programs are scheduled to end the week of Sept. 4. Those programs include ones for contract or self-employed workers under the federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program.

The Denver-Aurora area added 6,300 payroll jobs in June. That brings the total number of jobs to 1,501,700 — 55,800 below the area’s peak of 1,557,500 jobs in February 2020.

The Colorado Springs area actually lost 1,500 jobs from May to June, reversing a months-long trend of adding jobs since they cratered in March 2020. The area needs to add 6,800 jobs before it reaches it pre-pandemic peak level of 304,700, set in January 2020.