NewsCovering Colorado


Colorado's tight job market trails behind national average

Posted at 12:00 PM, Sep 06, 2022
and last updated 2022-09-06 14:00:35-04

COLORADO — Job growth across the United States is cooling off this month after a large increase in July, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, but Colorado is trailing behind national numbers in one important way.

There are 0.4 workers available per open position in Colorado, while the national average is half a worker per opening, meaning a tighter labor market. According to the Leeds School of Business at the University of Colorado-Boulder, the state has the second highest labor participation rate in the country. So why are we seeing this labor market gap?

Economist Tatiana Bailey said there are a few reasons for this: recent economic growth creating more jobs in the state and a changing workforce.

"The young workers are at the same labor participation rate that they were pre-pandemic. It has more to do with the aging of the population. The United States has never been this old. We have never had this many baby boomers. A lot of them are getting too old and they've exited the labor force," she said.

The top industries that need more workers right now are healthcare, especially after the pandemic, and the IT field. Bailey said these are chronic shortages and more industries are cutting back education requirements to try and fill those hiring gaps.

"The thing that's really striking to me is how many jobs we have that don't require four-year degrees anymore," she said. "There are boot camps for those with guaranteed sometimes six-figure salaries that graduates can get. Some really smart kids who know about this are doing this right out of high school, and, you know, walking into really, you know, good high paying jobs with benefits very early in their lives, you know, by the time they're 20."

So, what does this mean for you?

Bailey says now is a good time for workers with a surplus of jobs at their fingertips.

"It's a really good time for kids or people who want to reenter the workforce, because the chances of them being able to get their foot in the door is greater, and you have a lot of employers who are willing to do more on the job training or give you some type of tuition reimbursement," she said.

As for the health of Colorado's economy, Bailey said the state should ultimately have a ratio of around 1.3 workers per job opening, rather than the ratio of 0.4 workers to each job we are experiencing right now.

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