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Volunteer nurse Lorin Pahlau administers a Covid-19 vaccine during a vaccination clinic for residents of zip code 80010 and existing refugee patients at Ardas Family Medicine in The Mango House in Aurora, Colorado on Thursday, March 4, 2021. (Eli Imadali, Special to The Colorado Sun)

If you’re still in job limbo because your former employer shut down, hasn’t reopened or you’re hoping to switch to a more stable career, take this advice from economist Tatiana Bailey: Look for a new career based on occupations with the most openings.

“The top 10 job openings are always the same,” said Bailey, director of the Economic Forum in the College of Business at the University of Colorado Colorado Springs. “And that tells me that we’re not really training people for the jobs of today.”

But what it also says, she added, is that those industries are constantly hiring and cannot find enough workers.

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Bailey dug into Colorado Springs data collected from Burning Glass Technologies, which tracks 40,000 sources for online job postings daily. She uses that to help inform the Pikes Peak Workforce Center about what training programs and tools should be offered to job seekers. 

The top five occupations with openings in Colorado Springs were registered nurses, software developers, sales representatives, retail salespersons and truck drivers. Incomes for half of the top 10 seem like livable wages.  

If any of them sound appealing, then you just might have a new future. Those same occupations are among the top 10 statewide. The Colorado Department of Labor and Employment provides similar top 10 data based on the state’s job bank, which is incomplete as previously reported, but gives us a sense of openings. 

As of April 13, the top 10 jobs advertised in Colorado were:

  1. Registered nurses, 3,837
  2. Retail salespersons, 1,579
  3. Customer service representatives, 1,147
  4. Computer system engineers/architects, 835
  5. First-line supervisors of food preparation and serving workers, 792
  6. Nursing assistants, 768
  7. General and operations managers, 755
  8. First-line supervisors of retail sales workers, 747
  9. Heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers, 723
  10. Driver/sales workers, 703

(Here’s a link to view the top 100.)

The state’s Labor Market Information database also lets researchers dig a little deeper by region to view top occupations. Here’s what they are for Denver-Aurora metro area on April 15:

  1. Registered Nurses, 1,996
  2. Retail Salespersons, 918
  3. Customer Service Representatives, 679
  4. Computer Programmers, 525
  5. Computer Systems Engineers/Architects, 519
  6. General and Operations Managers, 465
  7. Heavy and Tractor-Trailer Truck Drivers, 460
  8. First-Line Supervisors of Retail Sales Workers, 439
  9. First-Line Supervisors of Food Preparation and Serving Workers, 425
  10. Nursing Assistants, 402

For the Grand Junction area, the top job postings look like this:

  1. Registered nurses, 119
  2. Retail salespersons, 44
  3. Physicians and surgeons, all other, 37
  4. Nursing assistants, 35 
  5. Heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers, 32
  6. Driver/sales workers, 30
  7. Customer-service representatives, 30
  8. First-line supervisors of food preparation and serving workers, 22
  9. Occupational therapists, 21
  10. Combined food preparation and serving workers, including fast food, 18

And in the Pueblo metro area

  1. Registered nurses, 204
  2. Licensed practical and vocational nurses, 38
  3. Retail salespersons, 36
  4. Customer-service representatives, 35
  5. Heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers, 34
  6. Nursing assistants, 30
  7. First-line supervisors of retail sales workers, 29
  8. Driver/sales workers, 28
  9. First-line supervisors of food preparation and serving workers, 24
  10. Physical therapists, 22

While it’s interesting to see similarities between the most-posted job ads between markets — half of the top openings are the same on all the lists — it’s also notable to see what’s unique. In Denver, accountants and cooks are unique to the top 10, while Grand Junction really needs doctors and occupational therapists. Pueblo? Supervisors for food prep and retail sales workers.

If you’d like to explore the data yourself, just visit the Labor Market Information Dashboard and find the “Top Occupations Advertised Data” link.

→  Bailey, the economist, worked with the Pikes Peak Workforce Center to make it easier to find the number of openings per occupation via WAM, the Workforce Asset Map

→ Denver’s Workforce Services is hosting a free “Careers in Health Care” seminar online on both April 21 and April 28 at 1:30 p.m. >> Register

In demand: Accountants

One of the local job boards I included in a roundup recently was Lew’s List, which shares finance and accounting opportunities. It’s run by Lew Visscher, former chief financial officer for Catalyst Repository Systems. He started the list to help other accountants and financial companies hire help or find a new job.

While the industry cut back on posting jobs at the start of the pandemic, finance and accounting job postings “was at best, 50% of normal all the way through the end of the year,” Visscher said. 

That’s likely to return to normal since the demand for accountants has been ongoing for the past decade, said Julie Scates, president and founder of J2T Recruiting, a Denver recruitment firm specializing in accounting and finance.

“COVID did not create that bottleneck. That bottleneck was created because it (Certified Public Accountant degree) is now a five-year degree,” she said. “And if you have a mind for accounting your brain works like an engineer or software developer in the tech space, which is a little sexier and pays more. The accounting profession lost its product to competing degrees.”

She said she always tells high school and college students to get a degree in accounting or finance. “You’ll never not be employed,” she said.

And there are entry-level jobs that don’t require that five-year degree. 

“Most bookkeepers I know are self-taught,” she said. “They started a small business or a home business or a family business, working in QuickBooks.”

→ If you’re looking to get started in accounting, the American Institute of CPAs has more information on what it takes to get a degree. Another source recommended by Scates is, which has more details on top schools in Colorado.

→ LinkedIn Learning offers several online training startup courses for a variety of careers, including finance. >> Check it out

→ There are some free (and a lot more paid) training programs provided by local workforce centers, Goodwill of Colorado and your local public library. Denver Public Library, for example, offers Udemy courses, while Arapahoe libraries have Treehouse web development programs and more. 

Unemployment fraud, IDme and other news

Unemployment fraud continues to be rampant. Labor department officials said Friday that fraudsters have so far scammed the unemployment office of $19.4 million, up from the previously reported $6.5 million (thanks to my colleague Thy Vo who subbed in to cover unemployment this week while I was out of town).

As What’s Working reported more than two weeks ago, the state Labor department now requires everyone on unemployment to go through the IDme verification process. The result has led to frustrated users unable to get verified and a decline in the amount of unemployment benefits paid. 

This began the week ending April 10, when payments dropped to $110 million from $190 million for the week that ended April 3. The overall number of people in some form of continued unemployment took a hit too, down 17% in a week to 218,000 people by April 10..

What does this mean? A lot of people are stuck in the IDme process.

“The recent implementation of the identity verification requirement explains the decline in continued weeks for the week ending April 3, compared to the weeks and months prior,” according to the Department of Labor.

CDLE has since added more video tutorials and an FAQ just for IDme. IDme, meanwhile, is still showing waits of five hours or more, according to some folks who’ve shared screenshots. And the verification firm offers its own recommendations to better manage the long wait. (Note: Choosing to come back later to finish the process means you lose your place in line, but you won’t have to repeat steps already taken.)

And please keep in mind that even if your IDme verification is successful, CDLE warns that something else may be holding up your case. Make sure you provide all “fact-finding documents to the department to clear these issues,” said the agency and expect this to take time to make sure your claim isn’t fraudulent.

→ If you’re a victim of unemployment fraud, read our earlier coverage so you know what is happening and what to do about it. >> STORY

Job news odds and ends:

→ U.S. Senate Democrats proposed tweaking unemployment benefits to speed up the application process and provide larger checks for “many low- and middle-income workers to receive up to 75% of the wages they earned when they had stable employment,” according to The Washington Post. Colorado’s unemployment benefit is typically 55% of one’s employed income. >> STORY

→ Colorado has now borrowed more than $1 billion from the federal government to pay benefits to those on unemployment. The money will likely have to be paid back eventually by the state’s employers. Catch up on that with this STORY.

→ Lost your health insurance? My colleague Michael Booth reports that hundreds of thousands of Coloradans eligible for subsidized health care aren’t taking advantage of the offer, even as federal COVID relief has expanded eligibility and the options. Do you qualify? >> STORY

Thanks for reading this week. Share your job stories, hiring notes and unemployment issues with me at at Bonus points: People who share how they got their issue resolved because that is how we can really help one another (thanks in advance)! Hang in there everyone! ~tamara

What’s Working is a Colorado Sun column for readers navigating today’s economy. Read the archive, send a message and don’t miss the next one. Get this free newsletter in your inbox by signing up at

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Tamara Chuang writes about Colorado business and the local economy for The Colorado Sun, which she cofounded in 2018 with a mission to make sure quality local journalism is a sustainable business. Her focus on the economy during the pandemic...