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Morgan Larrabee, one of Amazon's stow associates works through bins filled with packages at her work station in Thornton. The center opened in June 2018 and spans 855,000 square feet. (Kathryn Scott, Special to The Colorado Sun)

Who isn’t hiring? A number of national companies announced they need more help this week and are increasing hourly pay for new hires, including Amazon, which is looking to hire 3,000 more people in Denver at $17 an hour.

McDonald’s is another, offering $13 per hour at company-owned stores, and there’s also Chipotle, which is increasing its hourly wage to $15 by June. There are also various hiring bonuses as employers say it’s difficult to find workers right now so they must raise their wage above the state’s $12 minimum.

With so many jobs out there, at least 18 states have now decided to end federal unemployment benefits early, according to CBS News. That includes the weekly $300 federal bonus to everyone on unemployment through September.  

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But let’s face it. It’s hard to make a living in Denver or in most parts of Colorado even on $15 an hour. With Denver’s average rents for a two-bedroom apartment at $1,600 a month, housing expenses would take up one third of that monthly salary if the renter has a roommate. And if you remember this example of the jobs with the most openings in Colorado Springs, four of the top 10 paid less than $35,000, or $16.83 an hour.

“There have been many articles about how jobs are on the rise but no workers,” emailed Lucy Trankina, who used to make nearly double the minimum wage before she lost her job in the pandemic. “These articles seem to assume that people are choosing not to go back to work because unemployment benefits are making it easy to stay home. This grossly overlooks the fact that most of these jobs are minimum wage and the people on unemployment are not all minimum-wage workers.”

Actually, she’s not the only one to think this. There’s been a flurry of news stories about how some of the labor shortage isn’t a labor shortage. It’s an awful pay for awful jobs issue, according to The Intercept. It’s a labor reassessment, writes The Washington Post. It’s just economics, says the Economic Policy Institute.

Heidi Shierholz, EPI’s senior economist and director of policy, went on to explain: “Employers who truly face shortages of suitable, interested workers will respond by bidding up wages to attract those workers, and employers whose workers are being poached will raise wages to retain their workers, and so on. When you don’t see wages growing to reflect that dynamic, you can be fairly certain that labor shortages, though possibly happening in some places, are not a driving feature of the labor market.”

Morgan Larrabee, one of Amazon’s stow associates works through bins filled with packages at her work station in Thornton. The center opened in June 2018 and spans 855,000 square feet. (Kathryn Scott, Special to The Colorado Sun)

Amazon having to raise its wage to $17 an hour for warehouse jobs is the company’s response to its own labor shortage and rise in demand for its services. 

We don’t see many announcements from non-retail or service-industry jobs announcing they’re increasing pay because they can’t find workers. But perhaps there will be more if there really is a national labor shortage that affects more than minimum-wage jobs.

WEIGH IN: Are you an employer looking for workers or an unemployed worker looking for work? What’s your take on the labor shortage? Share your two cents with

→ In case you missed it: What’s Working: Gig companies want workers back and are paying bonuses in Colorado

A higher wage job: Truck drivers

I often mention various occupations that do pay a livable wage in Colorado, like accountants

Here’s another: truck driver. 

Long hours on the road, staying alert and maneuvering under low-hanging bridges or through narrow parking lots doesn’t sound simple. And to qualify, you’ll need a commercial driver’s license. But this gig often appears at the top of the job list for a high number of openings. 

But if you get that license and training, Class A truck drivers earn an average of $48,176 to $62,532 in Colorado, according to

That’s just one national estimate. Over in Commerce City, Old Dominion Freight Line, a trucking company, is holding a job fair on Saturday and looking for 10 new drivers “to accommodate business growth in the Denver area,” according to the company, which in March said it needed 800 more drivers. The pay ranges between $73,000 and $98,000, plus a $5,000 signing bonus. 

And it’s not just licensed drivers they seek, but also dockworkers who don’t need any prior experience, said Patrick Budd, an Old Dominion Freight spokesman.

“As business levels continue to rise, there is an increased demand for our less-than-truckload services, and we need the people to help make that happen,” he said in an email. “We’re looking for Class A CDL drivers, dockworkers, and other qualified individuals to support our freight operations. The jobs open in our Commerce City service center are well-paying jobs in an industry critical to the American economy.”

Well-paying for entry level dockworkers translates to $24.25 an hour — or more than double the state’s minimum wage.

If you’re interested, stop by the company’s job fair today (May 15) or apply online. >> DETAILS


→ Strive Health, which provides kidney care, is expanding its Denver headquarters and plans to add 250 new jobs that are clinical, technical, data management operations and strategy. The average annual wage is $131,572. >> JOBS

→ As of Friday, there were nearly 99,568 job openings on, the state’s official job board. While I’ve delved into how this job board gets its jobs and why there may be duplicates, that’s the highest I’ve ever seen it!

→ New unemployment claims remained under 5,000 for the second week in a row — a pandemic first for the state, according to the state Department of Labor and Employment. There were 4,395 new claims for the week ending May 8. The number of Coloradans still receiving unemployment benefits as of May 1 was 192,830, down from 196,607 the week before. >> REPORT

Moving past’s Step 6

Last week, I gathered up what I’d learned about over the months and put it into one column. The tool, used by the state to verify the identity of every person applying for unemployment, has now verified 228,178 people, about 21,629 more people than a week ago.

But people still struggled and shared their issues.

More than a handful of people had the same issue so I want to tell everyone once again: Don’t stop after Step 6!!

I mentioned this last week and in prior weeks. CDLE even has a video of it on its tip page.

Lucy Trankina, from Colorado Springs, had bemoaned the process of because she completed the process last month but is still in some sort of hold up with getting paid her benefits. I told her to share some screenshots of her account so I could weigh in.

She shared this screenshot of’s Step 6 to show the process was completed.

Don’t stop after the infamous Step 6 in’s identity verification process. There are 9 steps. should probably bold the second sentence instead that you still need to go back “to continue.” (Provided by Lucy Trankina)

She had stopped at Step 6.

After I pointed that out, she logged back into and completed the process and her identity was accepted by the state. 

But she shared these tips: If you had previously stopped at Step 6, don’t start over. 

And after getting verified on, don’t overthink the message on your unemployment account. A screen popped up on her MyUI+ page that shouted in all caps, “ONLY COMPLETE ID.ME ONE TIME,” plus a few other confusing messages. But she completed the process by pressing the “here” link shown in this image:

After completing’s verification process that is required for unemployment benefits in Colorado, Lucy Trankina said she had to complete the process in her MyUI+ account by pressing the hyperlinked “here.” (Screenshot from Lucy Trankina)

She plans to report back after she’s been paid.

Thanks for paying attention for another week. Stay healthy and if you’ve got a job or unemployment issue, let me know by filling out this form. Until next time! ~ 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...