Skip to contents
Economy

What’s Working: Colorado asks how much does that job pay? Some out-of-state employers don’t like it

A site tracking job listings that exclude Coloradans saw a 25% increase in one day. Plus: state unemployment rate shrinks to 6.2%, unemployment fraud continues, and PUA folks must prove employment.

  • Credibility:

Colorado’s law to address pay disparity for women and people of color continues to get push back from companies outside of the state.

On Thursday, the Wall Street Journal detailed the issue employers have: They don’t want to publicly post pay ranges for each job opening. Certain employers with remote jobs are purposely excluding Colorado applicants, including Johnson & Johnson and CBRE Group. 

The story mentioned Aaron Batilo, a software engineer in Commerce City, who was shocked to learn of the bias. He took a day off work and spent 12 hours building ColoradoExcluded.com to track companies and job postings that excluded Coloradans. A day later, the number of companies excluding Coloradans had jumped to 58 from 46, up 25% since the article was published. Those companies had 90 job listings with language like this one from Citizens Bank: “This position is not available in Colorado.”

Box.com, based in Redwood City, California, is one of dozens of out-of-state companies with remote job openings that exclude applicants from Colorado. (Screenshot)

“Since the article (was) published, I’ve received maybe another 20-40 listings total. My website traffic has gone up 4-6x just from the WSJ article,” Batilo said in an email response to my questions on Friday. He had been receiving one or two a day since he set up the site last month.

Colorado’s Equal Pay for Equal Work Act passed in 2019 and went into effect Jan. 1. It requires job postings to include the hourly wage or pay range, plus bonuses and benefits. Employers can, however, pay more if the published wage was in “good faith” at the time, according to the rules set by the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment. Fines are between $500 and $10,000 per violation. (The state accepts complaints.)

Batilo feels it’s important for companies to be transparent about pay. Employers may interview dozens or hundreds of candidates, get pay expectations from a variety of people from different backgrounds. And then offer a salary that isn’t always fair.  

Don’t miss the free weekly newsletter on Colorado jobs and unemployment. Sign up: ColoradoSun.com/getww

“I’m going to get a little cynical here, but I think sharing salary information is important because I believe there’s an imbalance in the power dynamic between employee and employer,” he said. “The information imbalance means that companies have significantly more ability to minimize what they’re paying people.”

He’s been there. He said he’s worked alongside peers making $30,000 more despite similar responsibilities. It’s probably why tech companies have a hard time retaining staff, he said.

“It’s extremely common for someone to interview with a company and ask for a salary that they think is reasonable, only to find out that their coworker is making 2x what they are, and now this person is upset and leaves to find a company that will pay them more,” he said. “Ever since that first situation I mentioned that I was in, I’ve always been a proponent of salary transparency.”

So, what are state officials doing about it?

Joe Barela, executive director of the state’s Department of Labor said there are still thousands of remote jobs being advertised to Coloradans. On the state’s official job board at ConnectingColorado.com, more than 30,000 listed on Friday were for remote work.

Of those, 336 are Colorado employers while 30,048 are not or don’t say.By comparison, the 46 companies that exclude Colordans are “a relatively small number,”  Barela said, during a labor department news conference Friday. 

“But we want to make sure any employer that has a job for a Colorado worker is aware of the Equal Pay Equal Work Act and we’re doing everything to outreach to them to make sure that they know how they can comply with that and continue to post those jobs in Colorado,” he said.

TODAY’S UNDERWRITER

More change could be on the way. 

My colleague Jesse Paul asked about exclusionary employers to Assistant House Majority Leader Serena Gonzales-Gutierrez, a Denver Democrat, during The Colorado Sun’s special legislative recap event earlier this week. Gonzales-Gutierrez cosponsored the Equal Pay for Equal Work Act.

Gonzales-Gutierrez plans to speak to her cosponsors and possibly reach out to the Congressional delegation.

“We just need to do some follow up and figure out if there is anything that we can do for Coloradans,” she said. “Is this something that needs to be taken up by our federal delegation to say that this is not OK to be doing — singling out a state because of some pretty awesome laws that we have?”

To which fellow panelist Rep. Kevin Van Winkle, a Highlands Ranch Republican, said, “When politicians start micromanaging in the affairs of business, the effects tend to be more red tape, more regulation. … We’re competing nationwide for jobs right now, and people are moving with their feet to low-tax states, low-regulation states.” 

Who shares salaries? Charter

I noticed this last time I mentioned job openings at one of the state’s larger tech employers, Charter Communications. The company, which has a large tech operation in Greenwood Village, dutifully lists starting pay rates for available jobs in Colorado.

The company, which increased its minimum wage to $18 an hour, is on track to raise it to $20 in 2022. That includes customer service jobs at its call center in Colorado Springs. In fact, it has 70 openings and plans a “unique drive-thru hiring event” on Tuesday. 

Statewide, Charter has more than 300 open positions that include a fair number of technology jobs at its local homebase in Greenwood Village. A lead test engineer starts at $80,900, which is the same starting pay for a senior product manager in its wireless internet division. Field technicians in Cañon City start at $18. Benefits are posted too.

A customer service representative at a Charter Communications call center. The cable provider has its technology base in Greenwood Village and a call center in Colorado Springs. (Handout)

→ Charter’s job fair for customer service representatives (wages start at $18 an hour and include health and retirement benefits plus a discount on Spectrum service.

  • WHEN: June 22, 2021, 10 a.m.-1 p.m.
  • WHERE: Spectrum’s Call Center, 2221 E Bijou St. in Colorado Springs
  • APPLY: Online or text “REP” to 97211

→ Check out Charter’s jobs and starting pay

Unemployment rate drops to 6.2%

After three months stuck at 6.4%, Colorado’s unemployment rate dropped to 6.2% in May.

Ryan Gedney, the labor department’s senior economist cited expected reasons: higher vaccination rates among adults and relaxed capacity restrictions for businesses. 

The number of people returning to work obviously increased, which state data puts at approximately 7,200 individuals in May. That means 3 million Coloradans are back at work, which is 64.4% of the state’s population age 16 and up. In April 2020, the comparable rate was 57%, while the pre-pandemic rate was 66.8%.

Colorado’s economy by the numbers:

71 — Percentage of nonfarm payroll jobs lost in the spring of 2020 that have returned, or 265,200 in the past 13 months. For comparison, the U.S. figure is 66%.

89 — Recovery rate for Colorado Springs, which had the state’s fastest job recovery rate in May among the state’s seven metro areas. Greeley fared the worst, with a 28% rate.

11.4 — Unemployment rate in San Miguel County, which had the highest unemployment rate for any Colorado county in May

26 — Counties in Colorado with May unemployment rates below 5%. Boulder County had the lowest, at 4.7%

11,219 — Number of unemployed residents who, as of June 14, opted into Colorado Jumpstart, a program that pays up to $1,600 to those who get a full-time job and work for eight weeks. The program ends June 26.

1.68 — Drop in percentage of people on continued unemployment as of June 5, compared to the prior week. Approximately 138,798 Coloradans are still collecting benefits.

Unemployment beat

Fraudsters are now using phishing scams targeting unemployed workers to get at that money.

Phil Spesshardt, the director of the Division of Unemployment Insurance, said the Department of Labor has discovered multiple websites pretending to be the state’s own system for requesting unemployment benefits. The fake sites ask users to login so the thieves can steal  the user names and passwords.

If you think that happened to you, change your password and make sure the payment information is correct — in case thieves try to change it to go to their own accounts.

The Department of Labor stands by its security procedures, and Spesshardt said that by using ID.me verification and adding more than 50 fraud measures, CDLE prevented $502.15 million in confirmed fraudulent payments from going out. 

Another $22 million was paid though. Spesshardt said he could not comment on any investigations into who took the money, but when they’re ready, announcements will be made by law enforcement or the state Attorney General’s office.

Fraudsters targeting the Colorado unemployment system are now going after unemployed workers and phishing for information like logins and passwords. The Colorado Department of Labor and Employment shared images of some of the scams. (Provided by Colorado Department of Labor and Employment)

ID.me update

Changes to the ID.me verification service could mean some users will finally get their identities verified so they can get paid:

  • Users can complete the ID verification on a computer with a webcam. No smartphone needed. 
  • As reported here last month, ID.me wants to open physical locations so users can get their IDs verified in person. The state labor department acknowledged this is being discussed.
  • The labor department is seeing people in person to get their IDs verified. In April, the agency helped 1,870 people.
  • ID.me, which raised $100 million in venture funding in March, is now valued at $1.5 billion.

PUA users must now prove past employment

If you’ve been on federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, make sure you’ve uploaded proof of your past employment or self employment into the MyUI+ computer. In the past, proof of income was just fine. Not anymore. This is part of the federal COVID relief law that now requires proof.

This impacts PUA folks who filed before Dec. 27 and are still collecting the gig-worker benefits. Those who filed for PUA after Dec. 27 needn’t worry — you provided the documents as part of the application. Maryland’s labor department spells out the required documents quite clearly.

Fail to file within 90 days of the labor department notice and you will probably be disqualified from benefits. 

“Even if you are back at work at this point in time, you would need to upload those documents,” Spesshardt said.

TODAY’S UNDERWRITER

Other bits

→ The East Colfax Community Collective is raising money to help its small businesses on East Colfax in Denver. Backed by members like the owners of The Word and Speakeasy Hair Co., the neighborhood group hopes to raise at least $10,000 for grants available to startups that have been unable to access COVID-19 relief. Last year, it distributed 38 grants for $1,000 that help mostly minority or women-owned businesses. >> DONATE

→ The Colorado Restaurant Association and city of Denver are offering $500 to $1,000 grants to help restaurant and hotel employees who continue to experience COVID-related hardship. >> DETAILS (in Spanish)

→ The SBA has opened its disaster loan fund to more small businesses via its Targeted EIDL Advance and Supplemental Targeted Advance program. Applicants must be in a low-income community (here’s a map), had a 30% reduction in revenue and have fewer than 300 employees. >> DETAILS

→ Uber and Lyft are scrambling for drivers to return and offering all sorts of incentives. But the gig workers in some states are demanding the rights and privileges of normal employees. California drivers are now asking for the National Labor Relations Board to intervene. >> READ

HELP ME

When will the job and unemployment news end? It’s looking like not anytime soon, so I continue to try and capture the highlights of the week. If you’ve got something to share, email me at tamara@coloradosun.com. And do me a favor: Fill out my “Who reads What’s Working?” survey so I can get a better sense of what folks want to read about in the future. Stay cool! ~tamara

Help What’s Working chart its new course by telling us who reads this weekly work column and what does it need. We’re tossing in a drawing for a $100 gift card for who fill this out and share their email address. Thanks!

What’s Working is a Colorado Sun column for readers navigating pandemic employment. Read the archive and don’t miss the next one. Get this free newsletter delivered to your inbox by signing up at coloradosun.com/getww.

MORE: Read stories on Colorado jobs and unemployment


We believe vital information needs to be seen by the people impacted, whether it’s a public health crisis, investigative reporting or keeping lawmakers accountable. This reporting depends on support from readers like you.