Here's Why Colorado Residents May Struggle to Find Work

by Maurie Backman | Published on July 11, 2021

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Though there are more jobs available now, some roles are off limits to Colorado residents specifically.

In June, the U.S. economy added 850,000 new jobs, which exceeded economists' projections that called for 706,000 jobs. But while more jobs may be available on a national level, in Colorado, unemployed workers might continue to struggle to find work for one key reason.

A recent law limits Colorado residents

In 2019, the state of Colorado signed a new law called the Equal Pay for Equal Work Act. That law, which went into effect at the beginning of 2021, requires employers to disclose hourly wages or salary for all job postings. Companies that fail to comply are subject to penalties that can range from $500 to $10,000 per violation.

As a result, a large number of companies that are hiring workers for remote positions are expressly excluding Colorado residents from their respective candidate pools. In fact, many job listings have been crafted to read along the lines of "Work location is flexible but may not be performed remotely from Colorado."

Now, the purpose of the Equal Pay for Equal Work Act is to encourage employers to be upfront about the wages they're paying, and it may, at least in theory, prevent some degree of gender-based wage discrimination. But in reality, the law is preventing Colorado residents from capitalizing on job opportunities that might otherwise be available to them.

In the wake of the pandemic, a lot of companies are offering remote work arrangements in an effort to widen their talent pool. But in some cases, employers intend to offer different wages based on geographic location. That's not such an unreasonable thing, given that the cost of living can vary tremendously from one state or city to the next. But many companies may also not want to list wage information up front, and that requirement in Colorado is keeping many employers away.

In May, Colorado's unemployment rate was 6.2%, which was higher than the national average. And that's in a state that happens to have one of the highest workforce participation rates in the country.

But there are plenty of people in Colorado who are out of a job and could probably use one. And while the state has not yet ended boosted unemployment benefits, that $300 weekly enhancement is set to expire at the beginning of September on a national level. Giving Colorado workers more jobs to choose from could help those who are unemployed re-enter the workforce more easily. But for now, there's no indication that the Equal Pay for Equal Work Act is going away anytime soon.

Meanwhile, Payscale reports that the average salary for Colorado is $69,000, though that varies from industry to industry. Opening the door to remote jobs could, in some cases, help Colorado residents boost their wages, leaving them with more money to cover expenses, pay off debt, and pad their savings. It's therefore unfortunate that a bill designed to protect residents may be having the opposite effect.

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