Labor: Noticeable Rebound for Lake County
Back-To-Work or Packing-It-In?
It was a significant jump for Lake County when the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment (CDLE) released its January jobs report earlier this week. In December 2020, the local unemployment rate was 7.2% compared to January’s report of 5.5%. That 1.7% difference is one of the biggest changes in the state’s overall labor picture. Why? Local opinions range from people going back to work when the ski industry saw a holiday rebound, to many people simply stopped looking for work, with some low-end wage earners leaving town no longer able to afford Leadville housing market on a ski-lift operator’s hourly wage.
Compare that to Colorado’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate which decreased slightly in January to 6.6 percent from the revised December rate of 6.9 percent. At the national level, the unemployment rate dropped by four-tenths of a percentage point from December to 6.3 percent.
This release provides information on industry employment and labor force statistics for January 2021; the reference period for the establishment and household surveys was the pay period or week that includes the 12th of the month. Therefore, this release provides an estimate of Colorado’s employment situation during a decline in the number of COVID-19 cases across the state, which resulted in loosening restrictions for many establishments. The Leadville Workforce Center is located on the Colorado Mountain College campus in Leadville. However, due to current state and federal guidelines regarding COVID-19, they are only seeing people virtually or by phone at (719) 486-2428.
Rescue Plan Outlines Relief
The American Rescue Plan (ARP), was signed into law by President Biden on March 11 and includes the following supplements to unemployment benefits, extended tax credits, and relief for businesses which include rebates intended to stimulate a COVID-impacted economy. Some highlights of the plan include:
- Colorado’s labor force grew by 6,700 in January to 3,183,200. The labor force participation rate increased by one-tenth of a percentage point to 68.6 percent.
- The number of individuals employed in Colorado increased by 15,000 in January to 2,972,300, which represents 64.0 percent of the state’s 16+ population.
- The Colorado counties with the highest unemployment rates in January were: Huerfano (9.8%), Pueblo (9.3%), Gilpin (8.1%), Fremont (8.1%), Las Animas (7.9%), and Mesa (7.9%). County-level unemployment rates are not seasonally adjusted and are directly comparable to Colorado’s January unadjusted rate of 6.9 percent.
- Fully refundable employer tax credits included in the Families First Coronavirus Response Act will be extended through Sept. 30, 2021. These are credits against payroll taxes to compensate employers and self-employed for providing coronavirus-related paid sick leave and family and medical leave. The act increases the limit on the credit to $12,000 and increases the number of days a self-employed individual can take into account in calculating the qualified family leave. Paid leave credits also allowed for leave due to COVID-10 vaccination. The limit on the overall number of days taken into account for paid sick leave will reset after March 31.
- Employee retention tax credit will extended through Dec. 31, giving business owners access to as much as $33,000 per employee in incentives. Eligible employers can claim a refundable credit against the employer share of Social Security tax equal to 70% of a full-time employee’s qualified wages paid Jan. 1 through June 30. The maximum amount available is $7,000 per employee per quarter or $14,000 for eligible wages paid in the first half of 2021. For the second half of 2021 businesses can claim a refundable credit against the employer share of employment taxes (including Medicare) equal to as much as $7,000 per full-time employee per quarter during the last half of the year. Eligible employers must have experienced a full or partial shut down or at least a 20% drop in quarterly gross receipts in 2021.
- Allocates $50 billion in funding for small businesses, including $25 million earmarked for restaurants and bars, another $15 billion for targeted Economic Injury Disaster Loan advance payments and an additional $7.25 billion for the Paycheck Protection Program.
- The first $10,200 of unemployment benefits received in 2020 (for those making less than $150,000 a year) will be tax free.
- There will be a $300 supplement to weekly unemployment benefits for weeks extending through Sept. 6.
- Recovery rebates of $1,400 per person (with certain income limits) plus $1,400 for each dependent – including college students.
- Premium assistance for those paying for continuing health insurance (COBRA coverage) between March 11 and Sept. 30, 2021.
- Increases the child care tax credit to $3,000 per child and $3,600 per child for children under 6. 17-year-olds now qualify as children for the child care tax credit. Also, payments can be estimated and paid in advance each month July through December of 2021.
- The child care tax credit has been increased to $4,000 for one child or $8,000 for two or more children with reductions kicking in at certain income levels.
Webinar: What the Future of Work Holds
The world of work is changing, propelling some to greater heights while leaving others behind. Globalization, advances in technology, demographic shifts, and other factors leave many wondering whether we, as a society, are ready to face the many challenges tomorrow’s economy will bring. Join Colorado’s Future of Work expert Katherine Keegan to understand, prepare for, and develop policy and programmatic solutions to foster an economy that works for everyone in Colorado.
This event will look at ways that rural communities and businesses in Northwest Colorado can better understand and prepare for these trends. Tuesday, March 30 from 9 – 10:30 a.m. CLICK for registration.
In FULL DISCLOSURE: Technical Notes from CDLE
Sounds like the CDLE will be adjusting some data. Here’s what they report:
It is a routine practice at the beginning of each year for the Bureau of Labor Statistics to revise estimates for prior years based on new information available and updated methodologies. Revisions to the unemployment rate and all related household survey-based series as a result of the benchmark process this year were made back to 1976. Additionally, county estimates back to 2010 are subject to further revisions through April 16, 2021. For information on changes to:
- model-based estimation for the household survey
nonfarm payroll jobs series for 1990 through 2020
This press release provides information on industry employment and labor force statistics for January 2021, the most current estimates available from the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment. The reference period for the establishment and household surveys was the pay period or week that includes the 12th of the month. Therefore, this release provides an estimate of Colorado’s employment situation during a decline in the number of COVID-19 cases across the state, which resulted in loosening restrictions for many establishments. For Colorado unemployment insurance claims activity and related statistics, visit www.colmigateway.com. For information regarding impacts to Bureau of Labor Statistics data collection and processing during the pandemic, CLICK HERE.