Special Report

How COVID-19 Affected Colorado's Economy

The U.S. economy reported its worst quarterly decline in modern history during the COVID-19 pandemic, with gross domestic product shrinking at an annual rate of 31.4% in the second quarter. The economy bounced back in the third quarter, but efforts to contain the virus’s spread throughout 2020 still resulted in a 3.5% annual economic contraction in the United States.

Arriving on the heels of a historic period of growth, COVID-19 brought about a decline in gross domestic product in every state in the country. However, no two state economies are alike, and partially as a result, some states were hit far harder than others.

Colorado’s economy contracted by just 1.5% in 2020, the fifth smallest decline among states. Strong growth in Colorado’s information sector helped offset steep declines in industries related to tourism.

While Colorado’s decline in economic output was modest relative to most states, job losses were steeper. Due in part to the mining and logging industry, which shed nearly a quarter of its workforce in Colorado throughout 2020, overall employment in the state fell by 5.2% from 2019 to 2020, only slightly lower than the 5.8% national employment decline during that time. As of April, unemployment in Colorado stood at 6.4%, compared to the 6.1% U.S. unemployment rate.

States are ranked based on the percentage change in real GDP from 2019 to 2020. Data on GDP and industry-specific real GDP came from the BEA. Data on average annual employment and the seasonally adjusted monthly unemployment rate each came from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Rank State Change in GDP, 2020 (%) April 2021 unemployment (%) Change in nonfarm employment, 2020 (%)
1 Hawaii -8.0 8.5 -9.4
2 Wyoming -7.0 5.4 -4.1
3 Oklahoma -6.1 4.3 -4.9
4 New York -5.9 8.2 -10.3
5 West Virginia -5.5 5.8 -6.6
6 Louisiana -5.5 7.3 -1.8
7 Vermont -5.4 2.9 -9.3
8 Michigan -5.4 4.9 -5.8
9 Alaska -4.9 6.7 -8.7
10 Tennessee -4.9 5.0 -17.5
11 New Hampshire -4.7 2.8 -6.7
12 Nevada -4.6 8.0 -10.4
13 Rhode Island -4.5 6.3 -8.8
14 Wisconsin -4.5 3.9 -6.3
15 Pennsylvania -4.4 7.4 1.9
16 Maine -4.1 4.8 -6.4
17 Connecticut -4.1 8.1 -7.7
18 New Jersey -4.1 7.5 -8.4
19 South Carolina -4.1 5.0 -5.1
20 Illinois -4.0 7.1 -7.1
21 Ohio -4.0 4.7 -6.1
22 Delaware -3.9 6.4 -6.0
23 Massachusetts -3.8 6.5 -9.0
24 Minnesota -3.7 4.1 -6.9
25 Kentucky -3.7 4.7 -5.6
26 Missouri -3.6 4.1 -4.8
27 North Dakota -3.5 4.2 -6.7
28 Texas -3.5 6.7 -4.3
29 New Mexico -3.1 8.2 -6.7
30 Indiana -3.1 3.9 -5.5
31 Montana -3.0 3.7 -3.1
32 Kansas -3.0 3.5 -4.6
33 Florida -2.9 4.8 -5.2
34 Oregon -2.8 6.0 -6.6
35 Mississippi -2.8 6.2 -4.3
36 California -2.8 8.3 -7.4
37 Alabama -2.7 3.6 -4.3
38 Maryland -2.6 6.2 -6.8
39 Arkansas -2.6 4.4 -3.0
40 Georgia -2.5 4.3 -4.6
41 North Carolina -2.5 5.0 -4.3
42 Virginia -2.5 4.7 -5.0
43 Iowa -2.3 3.8 -5.1
44 Nebraska -2.1 2.8 -3.6
45 South Dakota -1.7 2.8 -3.4
46 Colorado -1.5 6.4 -5.2
47 Idaho -1.1 3.1 -0.7
48 Arizona -0.9 6.7 -3.1
49 Washington -0.7 5.5 -5.3
50 Utah -0.1 2.8 -1.6