FILE - Colorado Diners Restaurant

Diners wear no masks while at a restaurant near Coors Field before the Colorado Rockies host the Cincinnati Reds in a baseball game late Thursday, May 13, 2021, in Denver.

(The Center Square) — The Denver metro area has one of the hottest labor markets in the country, according to a new survey.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, Denver has added back more than 40,000 jobs, according to ThinkWhy’s National Jobs and Industry Performance Outlook. This total puts Denver slightly ahead of similarly sized metros like Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue in Washington.

However, sluggish employment gains in the leisure and hospitality industry is weighing down the metro area’s economic recovery, the survey found.

Even though the latest numbers from the Bureau of Labor Statistics show that hiring increased by 51.8% in April 2021, overall employment in leisure and hospitality is down nearly 30% year-over-year.

The song remains the same at the national level as well. Of the nearly 7.6 million jobs that are still unfilled because of the pandemic, nearly one-quarter of them are in leisure and hospitality, ThinkWhy found. The firm said the biggest persisting challenge for the industry is convincing people to come back to work.

"The challenge to find skilled and service workers remains a real threat to company growth and productivity,” Jay Denton, chief analyst for ThinkWhy, said in a statement. “The difficulty of filling both white- and blue-collar roles creates hardships to keep up with demand across industries – inevitably impacting a full economic recovery in those sectors and the local areas in which they operate."

While some may argue that these workers are finding jobs in other industries, Denton cautioned that many sectors already have air-tight labor markets in several metro areas across the country.

"While some policy issues focus on blue-collar jobs, the labor market is already incredibly tight for many occupations. As of May, jobs in management, technology, legal, architecture, and healthcare practitioners already had unemployment rates of 2.9% or less," Denton explained.

To overcome these hiring woes, the survey recommended that businesses refine their compensation plans to meet the competitive job market and learn to adapt to shifting availability of talent.

"Economic demand will not be the challenge for sustaining robust hiring levels. Impacts from labor shortages, rising wages and limitations to how quickly goods can be produced will slow down the process of hiring talent, and make keeping them even more important," Denton said.