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Colorado Springs recovering faster from pandemic than many other places in the state, CDLE says

Restaurants had to up their wages over the course of the pandemic to recruit employees.
Posted at 12:10 AM, Mar 17, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-17 02:10:01-04

COLORADO SPRINGS — According to January's data from the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment (CDLE), the state's unemployment rate is the lowest it has been since pre-pandemic.

The most recent rate shows unemployment statewide at 4.1%, the lowest since 2.8% in February 2020.

Dieter Schnakenberg, Owner of Edelweiss German Restaurant, says this time last year he would only get about one or two applications per job listing.

"The business was running so strong coming out of COVID, and then not being able to find people to work it, I felt like I was working 20 hours as day."

About one month ago, he saw over 150 applications come in for an open position.

"I think it's just really nice to be able to choose from more than one person."

According to the CDLE's report, Colorado Springs is one of the fastest recovering cities in the state in terms of job increase during the pandemic.

In January 2022, Colorado Springs' unemployment rate was 4.1%. In January 2021, the unemployment rate was 6.9%.

Pueblo still has one of the highest unemployment rates in the state, with 6.3% in January 2022. In January 2021, Pueblo's unemployment rate was 9.2%.

Unemployment rates from January 2021 to January 2022

However, many service industries are paying a hefty cost to recruit employees.

"Businesses like restaurants and other industries in the service sector do have to compete too for higher wages, or maybe higher benefits, or what do the hours look like," said Ryan Gedney with CDLE.

Schnakenberg says he raised wages dramatically during COVID-19.

"It will have to be built into our prices at some point."

According to a recent survey by the Colorado Restaurant Association, they expect more restaurants will close in 2022 than 2021 "due to rising operational costs, a shortage of labor, a lack of federal relief, and the lingering effects of the pandemic."

Read the full survey here.
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