Colorado State of the State (copy)

Colorado Gov. Jared Polis delivers his State of the State address to lawmakers assembled in the House of Representatives chamber in the State Capitol, Tuesday, Jan. 17, 2023, in Denver. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

There are, indeed, two jobs available for every unemployed individual in Colorado, as Gov. Jared Polis said in his State of the State address last week — but it's unclear what level of quality and or what industry these jobs are most likely in.

Polis said there are “two available jobs for every unemployed person” in Colorado. With a low state unemployment rate of 3.3%, according to the most recent report from the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment, there are still technically two available jobs for every one unemployed person based on November’s data.

Ryan Gedney, principal economist for the state labor department, said they are looking at the data based on the Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey, or JOLTS program, from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and comparing it to the number of unemployed individuals in a given month. In November, there were 231,000 job openings and 113,622 unemployed individuals, equal to 2.03 openings per unemployed person, according to Gedney.

“Unfortunately we do not know the quality or pay of those job openings, as the JOLTS program does not provide that information publicly,” Gedney said in an email. “Openings in Colorado and the U.S. have been historically high for the past year and a half.”

The Colorado Chamber of Commerce found in a recent survey that two-thirds of respondents claim to have open positions that they are unable to fill. The survey also showed that manufacturing companies are struggling more than other industries, as 83% of respondents are unable to fill open positions. The lack of qualified labor is also an issue for manufacturing, according to Meghan Dollar, senior vice president of governmental affairs and political operations at the Colorado Chamber.

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“This issue isn’t necessarily in a vacuum,” Dollar said. “Because workforce sort of ties with the workforce housing issues that we’re having in Colorado as well, so I think policies that boost that and help the talent pipeline and workforce housing will really be helpful for Colorado’s businesses.”

Dollar said workforce and labor issues are a pressing concern for their organization. In the chamber’s 2023 legislative agenda, “building the workforce of the future” is one of the main goals of the organization. This includes increasing funding for the Career Development Incentive Program and growing apprenticeship programs.

“I think everybody is struggling generally because people don’t want to just hire somebody, they want to hire the right person,” Dollar said.

For the restaurant and hospitality business community, these numbers come as no surprise according to Denise Mickelsen, communication director for the Colorado Restaurant Association.

“The restaurant industry has been feeling the effects of this labor shortage for years, and operators tell us that it’s never been harder to hire and retain staff,” Mickelsen said in a statement. “In fact, in November 2022, more than half of Colorado restaurants reported not having enough staff to fulfill consumer demand. The local restaurant industry is still a long way from fully recovering from the effects of the pandemic.”

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