Colorado Democrats control 100% of state government — both legislative chambers, all statewide offices, and the University of Colorado Board of Regents. That means they own the sad state of Colorado’s economy and must begin fixing it.

New data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics tell us how Democratic policies harm the working class and the poor — demographics comprised disproportionately of minorities — while allowing high-wage professionals to flourish.

Colorado’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate went from a troubling 6.4% in November to an abysmal 8.4% in December — a number reminiscent of the country’s last sustained recession.

The 8.4% unemployment rate ranks as the fourth-worst in the country. In less than a year, Colorado has gone from having the country’s 10th-best economy to having nearly the worst unemployment rate. Only Hawaii, Nevada, and California are worse off. Colorado has fallen below New York, New Jersey, Illinois, Michigan, and other states that have struggled mightily with the pandemic and have seen the exodus of employers, jobs, and residents for most of the past decade.

The data tell us the people struggling in the country’s fourth-worst unemployment state are those who can least afford income disruptions. They are mostly workers in the hospitality industry — meaning restaurants, hotels and resorts — which has been unfairly and unscientifically targeted by the state’s shutdown orders and occupancy restrictions.

Meanwhile, established professionals — typically the demographic with savings and other assets — are better off as a group than before the pandemic.

The latest report shows Colorado’s “leisure and hospitality” sector lost 26.4% of jobs from December 2019 through December 2020. In the month preceding Hanukkah, Christmas, and other winter holidays Coloradans lost more than 36,000 leisure and hospitality jobs. That’s mostly because Gov. Jared Polis ordered most restaurants closed for indoor dining just as the weather turned cold.

As waiters, cooks, and other service industry workers lost their incomes, those in professional and business services saw a year-to-date employment increase of nearly 2% and a 1.1% increase from November through December.

Colorado workers suffered substantially more than their higher-wage professional peers — and more than their working-class contemporaries in most other states — because some of the country’s strictest controls on the restaurants, hotels, and resorts cost them their jobs. It is no more complicated than that. The governor imposed these restrictions despite scientific evidence, as provided by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, showing no link between indoor dining and any substantial spread of COVID-19.

The COVID-19 policies represent only part of what the controlling political party has in store for the working class. Colorado’s new oil and gas regulatory system, which places environmentalism above the need for energy and jobs, threatens hundreds of thousands of working-class jobs provided by the oil and gas industry and related employment sectors.

The state government’s increasing hostility toward energy combines with new policies by President Joe Biden, and the Democratic majority in the U.S. House and Senate, to stop oil and gas production on federal lands.

The political establishment’s careless disregard for traditional employment threatens to keep Colorado among the republic’s poorest-performing economies. Over a decade, the energy and hospitality sectors provide billions in tax revenues and economic activities that fund schools, transportation, public safety, health care, and everything else that defines any state’s quality of life.

If Colorado’s comfortable politicians and professionals continue their palpable disregard for the proletariat, they will do so at a sustained expense to Colorado’s economy. That means more underfunded schools. It means we can forget about the future funding of all-day kindergarten, paid family leave, safe roads, advanced public safety, improved mental health services, and the prospect of more good high-tech employers bringing their payrolls to Colorado.

The professional workforce may not see the struggles of single parents laid off from restaurant jobs. They may not see the lost hope and sadness of a family that loses the solid income of a fracking job.

Sociology and economics tell us one thing for certain: we all need each other, even the most successful among us. When society imposes and tolerates hardships on the working class, all others will eventually feel the pain.


(c)2021 The Gazette (Colorado Springs, Colo.)

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