Employment rose in all nine large counties in Colorado from December 2010 to December 2011, the
U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported today. (Large counties are defined as those with
employment of 75,000 or more as measured by 2010 annual average employment.) Regional
Commissioner Stanley W. Suchman noted that seven of these large counties reported employment
growth exceeding the national average of 1.4 percent. Weld County led the state with a 4.3-percent gain
and ranked 3rd among the 322 large counties in the nation. Also ranking in the top 100 counties
nationwide were Arapahoe (3.3 percent, 20th), Douglas (2.9 percent, 30th), Boulder (2.6 percent, 38th),
Larimer (2.5 percent, 42nd), Denver (2.2 percent, 63rd), and Jefferson (2.0 percent, 78th).
Nationally, employment increased in 266 of the 322 largest U.S. counties from December 2010 to
December 2011. Kern, Calif., posted the largest percentage increase, with a gain of 5.3 percent over the
year. Benton, Wash., experienced the largest over-the-year decrease in employment among the largest
counties in the U.S. with a loss of 3.4 percent.
Among the nine largest counties in Colorado, employment was highest in Denver County (429,300) in
December 2011. Three other counties—Arapahoe, El Paso, and Jefferson—had employment levels
exceeding 200,000. Together, these nine large counties accounted for 79.0 percent of total employment
within the state. Nationwide, the 322 largest counties made up 70.7 percent of total U.S. employment.
Average weekly wages fell in all nine large counties in Colorado from the fourth quarter of 2010 to the
fourth quarter of 2011. Wages in Douglas County were down 8.6 percent, the largest decrease among
Colorado’s large counties and well below the 1.7-percent decline for the nation. Denver County
followed with a 4.8-percent loss in wages. Average weekly wages in the state’s nine largest counties
ranged from $1,162 in Denver County to $808 in Weld County. Wages in five of the large counties
exceeded the national average of $955. (See table 1.)
Employment and wage levels (but not over-the-year changes) are also available for the 55 counties in
Colorado with employment below 75,000. Of these smaller counties, only Broomfield ($1,207) and Rio
Blanco ($1,043) had average weekly wages above the national average. (See table 2.)
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Large county wage changes
All of Colorado’s nine large counties recorded wage declines from the fourth quarter of 2010 to the
fourth quarter of 2011, with four posting decreases below the national average of -1.7 percent. (See table
1.) As mentioned, Douglas County had the largest wage loss (-8.6 percent), placing 318th in the national
ranking and Denver (-4.8 percent) ranked 305th. Also placing in the bottom half of the rankings was
Jefferson County (-3.9 percent, 283rd). Larimer County’s average weekly wage inched down 0.1 percent
over the year, ranking it 38th. The counties of Boulder, Arapahoe, and Weld recorded decreases less than
the national average and ranked in the top half nationwide.
Among the 322 largest counties, 282 had over-the-year declines in average weekly wages. Olmsted,
Minn., had the largest wage loss among the largest U.S. counties (-21.3 percent). In contrast, Tulsa,
Okla., had the largest average weekly wage increase with a gain of 8.6 percent.
Large county average weekly wages
Five of the state’s large counties had average weekly wages that were above the national average of
$955, placing them in the top 100 among the 322 largest counties in the United States in the fourth
quarter of 2011. Denver County recorded the highest weekly wage at $1,162 and ranked 30th followed
by the counties of Boulder ($1,114, 42nd), Arapahoe ($1,108, 46th), Douglas ($1,065, 56th), and Jefferson
($976, 90th). The average weekly wages in Colorado’s four other large counties ranged from $808 to
Nationally, weekly wages were higher than average in 103 of the 322 largest U.S. counties. New York,
N.Y., held the top position among the highest-paid large counties with an average weekly wage of
$1,889. Santa Clara, Calif., was second at $1,836, followed by Washington, D.C. ($1,668), Suffolk,
Mass. ($1,599), and San Francisco, Calif. ($1,597). Among the 219 large counties with an average
weekly wage equal to or below the U.S. average in the fourth quarter of 2011, Horry, S.C. ($569)
reported the lowest wage.
Average weekly wages in Colorado’s smaller counties
Of the 55 counties in Colorado with employment below 75,000, only two counties—Broomfield
($1,207) and Rio Blanco ($1,043)—had average weekly wages above the national average of $955. San
Juan County reported the lowest weekly wage in the state with an average of $445 in the fourth quarter
of 2011. (See table 2.)
When all 64 counties in Colorado were considered, 6 had wages above $1,000. Five of these high-wage
counties were concentrated in the vicinity of the major metropolitan areas of Denver and Boulder. (See
chart 1.) Among the remaining Colorado counties, 2 had wages above $900, 8 had wages from $800 to
$899, 8 had wages from $700 to $799, 25 reported wages from $600 to $699, and 15 had wages under
$600. All but 4 of the counties with wages under $600 were located in the southern portion of the state.
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Additional statistics and other information
Quarterly data for states have been included in this release in table 3. For additional information about
quarterly employment and wages data, please read the Technical Note or visit the QCEW Web site at
Employment and Wages Annual Averages Online features comprehensive information by detailed
industry on establishments, employment, and wages for the nation and all states. The 2010 edition of
this publication, which was published in November 2011, contains selected data produced by Business
Employment Dynamics (BED) on job gains and losses, as well as selected data from the first quarter
2011 version of the national news release. Tables and additional content from Employment and Wages
Annual Averages 2010 are now available online at www.bls.gov/cew/cewbultn10.htm. The 2011 edition
of Employment and Wages Annual Averages Online will be available later in 2012.
Information in this release will be made available to sensory impaired individuals upon request. Voice
phone: (202) 691-5200; TDD message referral phone number: 1 (800) 877-8339.
For personal assistance or further information on the Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages
Program, as well as other Bureau programs, contact the Mountain-Plains Information Office in Kansas
City at (816) 285-7000.
Average weekly wage data by county are compiled under the Quarterly Census of Employment and
Wages (QCEW) program, also known as the ES-202 program. The data are derived from summaries of
employment and total pay of workers covered by state and federal unemployment insurance (UI)
legislation and provided by State Workforce Agencies (SWAs). The 9.2 million employer reports cover
131.1 million full- and part-time workers. The average weekly wage values are calculated by dividing
quarterly total wages by the average of the three monthly employment levels of those covered by UI
programs. The result is then divided by 13, the number of weeks in a quarter. It is to be noted, therefore,
that over-the-year wage changes for geographic areas may reflect shifts in the composition of
employment by industry, occupation, and such other factors as hours of work. Thus, wages may vary
among counties, metropolitan areas, or states for reasons other than changes in the average wage level.
Data for all states, Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSAs), counties, and the nation are available on the
BLS Web site at www.bls.gov/cew/; however, data in QCEW press releases have been revised and may
not match the data contained on the Bureau’s Web site.
QCEW data are not designed as a time series. QCEW data are simply the sums of individual
establishment records reflecting the number of establishments that exist in a county or industry at a point
in time. Establishments can move in or out of a county or industry for a number of reasons—some
reflecting economic events, others reflecting administrative changes.
The preliminary QCEW data presented in this release may differ from data released by the individual
states as well as from the data presented on the BLS Web site. These potential differences result from
the states’ continuing receipt, review and editing of UI data over time. On the other hand, differences
between data in this release and the data found on the BLS Web site are the result of adjustments made
to improve over-the-year comparisons. Specifically, these adjustments account for administrative
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(noneconomic) changes such as a correction to a previously reported location or industry classification.
Adjusting for these administrative changes allows users to more accurately assess changes of an
economic nature (such as a firm moving from one county to another or changing its primary economic
activity) over a 12-month period. Currently, adjusted data are available only from BLS press releases.
United States  131,254.2 1.4 — $955 — -1.7 —
Colorado 2,250.1 2.1 — 975 13 -2.6 46
Adams, Colo. 156.3 1.2 130 860 179 -2.4 212
Arapahoe, Colo. 282.8 3.3 20 1,108 46 -1.4 121
Boulder, Colo. 158.8 2.6 38 1,114 42 -0.6 67
Denver, Colo. 429.3 2.2 63 1,162 30 -4.8 305
Douglas, Colo. 93.5 2.9 30 1,065 56 -8.6 318
El Paso, Colo. 236.5 1.0 156 870 165 -2.1 185
Jefferson, Colo. 208.0 2.0 78 976 90 -3.9 283
Larimer, Colo. 130.2 2.5 42 857 184 -0.1 38
Weld, Colo. 83.2 4.3 3 808 242 -1.5 126
 Data are preliminary.
 Average w eekly w ages w ere calculated using unrounded data.
 Percent changes w ere computed from quarterly employment and pay data adjusted for noneconomic county reclassifications.
 Ranking does not include the county of San Juan, Puerto Rico.
 Totals for the United States do not include data for Puerto Rico or the Virgin Islands.