GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (FOX) – Nearly two years after COVID-19 first hit, there is some good news.

The Polis administration reports, Colorado’s unemployment rate is down for the fifth consecutive month.

Locally, it may be a different story. A local employment firm commissioned a survey from the Harris poll, that shows a different trend.

FOX 4’s Austin Sack met with several local business owners and found out what they’re looking for in the new year. “While the state of Colorado is seeing us as the highest rate of turnover and quit, I’m not sure that’s the case in mesa county, although mesa county does have a shortage of workers,” Nina Anderson, Express Employment Professionals says.

Nationally, 42% of U.S. companies say employee turnover increased this year costing businesses an average of more than $26,000 in lost productivity and recruiting. “You’re not just marketing to your customers you are marketing to your work force,” Anderson said.

The COVID-19 pandemic affected all businesses, large and small.

“During the pandemic there’s no loyalty, the business needs to survive,” Anderson says, but now employees are turning the tables, “Employees are now putting themselves in that position and saying look if there’s no loyalty then I need to look for the things that are important to me”

Which might even mean, leaving the workforce completely. “Our survey shows that the shortage of workers, 33% is due to retirements,” Anderson said.

Small and large businesses have always competed, but who’s on top when it comes to retaining employees? “I think that small employers after this pandemic are actually poised to improve their retention,” Anderson said.

One small business, Be Sweet, a café and bake shop struggles just to get applicants in the door. “During the pandemic we had a few people that never showed up for interviews,” Carrie Litz, Owner of Be Sweet said.

Because applicants have plenty of opportunities. “If I interview and offer the job a lot of the times they will say they already found a job somewhere else,” Litz said.

Carrie, started the business five years ago, with just one employee. “I got my first employee, got a second employee, now we have ten employees and we could definitely use a couple two or three more for sure,” Litz said.

With small businesses competing against larger ones for employees, employment experts say companies must now consider becoming an employer of choice in their community, by offering competitive salaries and benefits.

Since the start of the pandemic, Colorado as a whole has gained back more than 300,000 of nearly 400,000 pay roll jobs lost between February and April of last year.

That translates to a job recovery rate of 85.7%, which beats the U.S. rate of 82.5%.

But business could now face a new challenge, vaccine mandates.

Grand junction chamber of commerce tells us they fear if President Biden’s vaccine mandate, for businesses with more than 120 employees passes, more local employees may have to choose between keeping their job or getting the vaccine.