Dec 6, 2021 - Business

New Colorado economic outlook shows slowing job growth in 2022

Change in Colorado's nonagricultural wage and salary employment sectors
Data: Colorado Business Economic Outlook; Chart: Jacque Schrag/Axios

Colorado is expected to exceed pre-pandemic employment levels in 2022, but job growth will come slower than this year.

The latest: The Colorado Business Economic Outlook set for release Monday suggests we will no longer rank in the top 10 states for employment growth in 2021 or 2022.

What's happening: Three now-familiar factors are contributing to the downshift: Inflation, supply chain delays and worker shortages, according to Rich Wobbekind, a senior economist at the Leeds Business Research Division, which prepares the annual report.

  • "You hear the same things over and over again from the broader business community," he said. "We are very much in parallel with what's going on nationally."

By the numbers: The outlook estimates employers will add 87,600 jobs in 2021, or 3.3% growth. Unemployment is projected to average 5.6% for the year, an improvement from 7.3% in 2020.

  • In 2022, economists project 73,900 new jobs, or 2.7% growth, which will lead to new record employment.

Zoom in: All 11 sectors outlined in the report lost jobs in 2020, but nine turned to positive gains in 2021.

  • The natural resources and mining industries are expected to lose 1,900 jobs and the government sector will finish 2,100 jobs down.

Between the lines: The driving force behind the state's employment trajectory is the tourism sector, which took the hardest hit during the pandemic and lost 73,000 jobs.

  • Leisure and hospitality is expected to post the largest job gains in 2021 at 33,100 additional jobs, and it'll add another 31,700 in 2022.
  • But it won't be enough to recover from the 73,300 lost in 2020, and Wobbekind says the sector's full recovery won't come until 2023 at the earliest.

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