COVID-19 Updated Market Insights for Denver

Denver – Better than Most Metros in the West 

Denver lost 150,700 jobs, or 9.9%year over year according to the April results from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. This rate of decline ranked 26th of 82 metros and much better than its west coast peers including San Francisco (-13.5%), San Diego (-12.3%), Los Angeles (-14.5%), San Jose (-10.8%), Portland (-12.5%) and Oakland (-14.9%). But not as good as Phoenix which lost only 7.6%. Moreover, Denver’s unemployment rate jumped to 12.1% in April, close to Phoenix (12.3%). These numbers, however, are preliminary and subject to change. 


Looking for additional insights? Explore our interactive COVID-19 map to analyze the potential impact on commercial real estate markets.


Of Denver’s losses 48.7% or 73,400 jobs were in the leisure and hospitality sector. This equates to a rate of decline of 43.2%. The retail sector shed another 15,900 jobs, a decline of 11.6%. Netting out these two concentrated sectors puts the remaining year-over-year rate of job decline at 5.1% which ranked 17th of 82 metros. The U.S equivalent decline net of leisure, hospitality and retail was 8.0%, and the metro average decline was 8.3%. 

Denver’s total office sector (that includes information, finance, real estate and professional business services) 10,000 jobs year over year, which was a rate of decline of 2.3%. This ranked 9th of 82 metros and was better than Portland’s 5.0% decline but not as low as San Francisco and San Jose’s declines of 0.9% and 2.2%, respectively. The metro average office year-over-year decline was 6.6%, while the national rate of decline was 6.8%. On a bright note, Denver’s computer systems design industry added 3,200 jobs year over year as per the April BLS numbers. This was a growth rate of 8.3% and shows the metro’s tech sector still has some momentum. 

To put these jobs in perspective, Denver’s seasonally adjusted job gain over the last expansion was 375,000 jobs, a growth rate of 31.6%. The recent seasonally adjusted loss of jobs accounted for 49% of the gains in the recent expansion.  This ratio ranked 9th best of 82 metros. For the national average the recent loss represents a decline of 94% of the net gain during the expansion, while the metro average decline was 83% of the net expansion gain. 

Although Denver suffered fewer job losses than most metros and had a lower rate of COVID cases than most coastal parts of the U.S., its economy still faces the same risks as the rest of the U.S. Most but not all leisure, hospitality and retail jobs will return when the full shutdown ends. Moreover, many small businesses could shed jobs once their payroll protection funding runs out in July or August. Thus, Denver’s outlook remains uncertain until the virus is contained and/or the PPP is renewed.  


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