County jobless rate eases in March

The March unemployment rate in Mesa County dipped below 11 percent after two months at 11.1 percent.

The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate fell to 10.7 percent in March, according to the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment.

A decrease in unemployment is common this time of year because the weather is nice enough for more outdoor work in construction and other fields, according to Mesa County Workforce Center Supervisor Gilbert Lujan. There are 26 job orders on the center’s website for positions in the construction or extraction industries.

“I’d say sometime in 2008 was the last time we were that high in that area,” Lujan said.

Job orders in both industries were much higher for most of 2008, indicating that the pace of job growth this year in both sectors would have to quicken to catch up with the past, Lujan said.

Job orders are also increasing in transportation, which has been on the rise for months, and in manufacturing, which had been idling but now has 18 job orders posted with the center.

There was little change from February to March in the number of employed people in the county. But the number of unemployed people recorded in Mesa County dropped from 9,059 in February to 8,656 in March.

That may mean unemployed people filled spots vacated by employed people leaving town, or that unemployed people left the area. But with local school district enrollment holding relatively steady, indicating parents are staying put, Lujan said there’s a greater chance some people left the ranks of the unemployed to attend school full-time, stopped looking for work or ran out of unemployment benefits.

Mesa County tied Pueblo in March for the highest unemployment rate among the state’s seven largest metropolitan areas. At 6.7 percent, Boulder had the lowest unemployment rate among the seven areas.

Colorado’s unemployment rate dropped slightly from 9.3 percent in February to 9.2 percent in March. Last month, there were 10,100 more employed people in the state than there were in February. At the same time, the unemployment tally dropped by 1,500 Coloradans.


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