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Economy

What’s Working: Who quit their job last year in Colorado

The latest labor data found the U.S. hit a record high for quitters in November. Plus: Business leaders are optimistic, job resources and more.

King Soopers in Greenwood Village on Dec. 30, 2021. It's one of 87 grocery stores that are negotiating new contracts with employees. The contract expires Jan. 8, 2022. (Dale Taylor, Special to The Colorado Sun)
  • Credibility:

I’m keeping it short this week since I had less time to report deeply on work as I have been helping out with the Marshall fire coverage that devastated parts of Boulder County. (My colleagues did a thorough job so check out the coverage.)

But a few key job and economic related items of note about the fire and disaster recovery worth paying attention to:

  • If you lost your job or are self-employed and cannot work due to the fires, unemployment benefits are available as part of the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Disaster Unemployment Assistance. Tip: you must file for regular state unemployment first and then if deemed eligible, the disaster benefits form will be shared. >> DETAILS (or call 303-318-9000 or file in person at the Disaster Assistance Center at 1755 S. Public Road in Lafayette)
  • For homeowners, renters and small businesses: There are disaster loans available from the Small Business Administration to help folks repair damage and replace or repair personal property. >> DETAILS
  • If you’re dealing with insurance to cover your losses, here is our FAQ on disaster insurance. The state Division of Insurance is also answering questions on the claims process at 303-894-7490 or 800-930-3745, DORA_Insurance@state.co.us or  doi.colorado.gov (click on “File a Complaint”).

People are still quitting their jobs. 

From the looks of the data, 2021 will be remembered as the year of the quitter, or as someone dubbed it, “The Great Resignation,” as people voluntarily left their jobs at the highest rates in recorded labor history.  

The latest data released this week counted 4.5 million job quitters in November — a series high, according to the monthly Job Openings and Labor Turnover Summary, which tracks how many people get hired, fired or quit in a given month. Before the pandemic, national quit rates peaked around 2.4% in 2019 and fell to 1.6% in April 2020.

TODAY’S UNDERWRITER

As I’ve learned from covering this JOLTS report since the Bureau of Labor Statistics began sharing state data last fall, having a high number of people quit their jobs usually means there’s a growing economy with a lot of job openings. People quit and move to better ones.

In this case, the national movement was largely in accomodation and food services, health care and social assistance, and transportation, warehousing and utilities. Jobs in those categories employ many entry level workers, typically at lower wages. And if you look at job ads, many employers are raising those wages so it makes sense that folks would jump from one job to another. 

The other thing about JOLTS is that it’s not just about quitting, but it also tracks hiring and job openings. The number of job openings fell 6.6%, with the largest decline in accommodation and food services. That seems to imply that hotels and restaurants are finding workers — or making do with fewer. Meanwhile, the number of hires was flat. 

While Colorado’s latest numbers won’t be released for two weeks, there are hints that Coloradans may not be quitting as much as everyone else. The national report shares the western region, which includes Colorado and California. Its rate of quitting was 2.8% rate in November, or lower than the 2.9% high in October. 

Then again, Colorado had the fourth highest rate of quitters in the nation back in September, so we’ll just wait where Colorado lands for a future column.

In the meantime, let’s do some research together. Did you quit your job last year? Was it because of a better offer, a vaccine mandate or you were just tired of what you were doing? Help us understand this together by sharing your story in this handy form:

More on the Great Resignation:

JOLTS reports are based on small samples that are much smaller than other economic reports, cautioned Ryan Gedney, the state’s economist for the labor department last November. But the state data just offers a little more information about the economy. “The number of openings and the quit rates are valuable because you can calculate labor tightness. In terms of a higher quit rate, our view is the labor market is tighter because of the openings-to-unemployed ratio. Those are all signs of an economy in recovery,” he shared at the time.

→ The “Great Resignation” was likely coined by Anthony Klotz, a professor at Texas A&M who used the term in May to predict the mass exodus of people from the workforce, reports The Atlantic. But writer Derek Thompson notes that it’s more about people switching jobs. >> STORY

→ Where is this job turnover? Low-wage workers, reports The New York Times. >> STORY

→ There were 109,868 jobs advertised on the state’s job board at Connecting Colorado, about 25,000 allow for remote work. >> BROWSE OPENINGS

Business leaders are optimistic

At least one group of folks feel good about the financial prospects of 2022. Colorado business leaders surveyed by the Leeds Business Research Division at the University of Colorado have more confidence about the first quarter 2022 than they did for the past quarter.

TODAY’S UNDERWRITER

That’s because the 231 business leaders surveyed are already experiencing inflation and an increase in wages that are impacting their bottom line. They expect it to become more moderate by the end of the year. 

And that’s with a belief that inflation will continue this year though it is expected to be more moderate by late 2022, said Rich Wobbekind, senior economist and faculty director of the division. 

Other tidbits:

  • The rebound in the labor market through November left Colorado with a smaller jobs deficit than the nation (-1.9% versus -2.6% from February 2020) and ranked the state 17th in the nation in terms of the recovery and 12th in terms of year-over-year performance.
  • Colorado’s personal income increased 8.7% in the third quarter from a year earlier, ranking the state fourth nationwide.
  • In the same period, Colorado’s Gross Domestic Product increased 5.5%, ranking 10th nationwide.

>> Read the report

Nearing the end of 2021 unemployment data

There’s only one week of unreported data for Colorado’s unemployment claims last year. It looks like another 1,356 folks eligible for the now-expired federal pandemic unemployment were paid for the week ending on Christmas. I’ll tally up the numbers when the last week of 2021’s continued claims is shared next week.

But in other news, the number of new jobless claims in Colorado increased 31% last week to 2,206. We’re now back above the weekly average of 1,900 before the pandemic. Here’s the latest chart: 

Other working bits

→ KING SOOPERS STRIKE — Union members at Front Range King Soopers plan to strike for three weeks starting Wednesday. There are 87 stores in the Denver and Colorado Springs metro areas that are impacted by the planned pickets by the United Food and Commercial Workers Local 7. Both sides are saying “unfair labor practices,” >> STORY

→ UI TRUST FUND — Building back Colorado’s depleted unemployment trust fund (we’re short more than $2 billion) needs the $600 million that Gov. Jared Polis proposed state lawmakers approve. “If we fail to act, payroll taxes will go up in Colorado costing businesses and workers money,” Polis said Thursday at The Colorado Sun’s 2022 Legislative Preview event. Sen. Bob Rankin, a Republican from Carbondale, who also spoke, said he plans to ask for even more because $600 million still leaves employers paying higher costs. Miss the Sun’s annual event? >> WATCH ONLINE

→ VACCINE MANDATE? President Biden’s vaccine mandate for private employers with 100 or more employees was argued in front of the U.S. Supreme Court on Friday. The decision appears to be pending and CNN is reporting that the court is poised to block it. The order, to be enforced by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, is supposed to take effect on Monday.

→ SICK DAYS — One of four people tested in Denver for COVID-19 are positive, reports Denverite. That’s likely contributing to worker shortages — a trend The Wall Street Journal describes as America calling in sick. >> WSJ, Denverite


Thanks for reading! But now, take a minute and share your job or economic story at cosun.co/job-stories. If you know someone who quit their job recently and will talk about it, send them my way by emailing tamara@coloradosun.com. Stay healthy! ~tamara


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