SOUTHERN COLORADO — According the latest data, the national unemployment rate is around 13% right now. Colorado is below the national average, at 10%.
Last week alone, nearly 14,000 Coloradans filed for some form of unemployment. Since March 29, the state has paid out an estimated $3.3 billion dollars in unemployment benefits.
According to the latest data, 32,000 residents are out of work, putting the unemployment rate at 9.6%. However, over 9,600 are available in El Paso County.
In Pueblo County, the unemployment rate is hovering around 9.2%, but there are nearly 2,000 open positions ready to be filled.
The top five industries with the most workers filing for unemployment claims are accommodation and food services, health care and social services, administrative positions, retail, and the manufacturing industry.
Even though there are thousands of jobs up for grabs, the unemployment rate is still high. For instance, Marco's Pizza said they typically have no trouble finding people to hire, but lately it has been difficult. "We know for a fact that two of our great employees, did the math, they got approved for unemployment, and found out they were going to be paid more to sit at home than to keep working with us," said Craig Cheatham, the owner of the local Marco's Pizza franchise.
The Chief Economic Development Officer for the Colorado Springs Chamber of Commerce and EDC, Cecilia Harry, said it is challenging to predict what will happen in the job market. However, she said she is confident they will have great announcements in the months to come about opportunities for the community.
Harry said they partnered with 11 companies in 2019, which were looking to move or expand into the Pikes Peak region. Those include companies like In-N-Out, Amazon, Trisco Foods, Titan Robotics, and USA Diving Headquarters. "There are a lot of opportunities in the Colorado Springs region across skill sets and across industries, related to growth and maintaining these companies presence in the community," said Harry.
The President and CEO of the Pueblo Economic Development Corp, Jeff Shaw, said they deal with primary job employers. Those are companies that manufacture a product or provide a service, and 51% of the money or product is exported out of Pueblo County.
Shaw said the manufacturing industry in Pueblo never really stopped, and there are a number of companies willing to train people. The majority of job loss in Pueblo is not from the manufacturing sector, according to Shaw, but from the service and retail industries. Currently, Key Structurers and indieDwell are companies hiring in Pueblo. "I think there's going to be plenty of opportunities for people who want to work... A nationwide shortage of skilled workforce too, so there always has been openings available," said Shaw.
Shaw also said Pueblo has weathered the storm well, and their sales tax revenue and city sales tax revenue has not fallen much. "Anticipating a big influx of workers coming back as soon as they remove that additional stimulus," said Shaw.
The Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation, the $600 a week designed to increase unemployment payments for people impacted by COVID-19, is set to expire July 25.