GJ-area jobless rate holds steady for 3rd month

Mesa County’s unemployment rate remained at 8.5 percent for a third consecutive month in November, according to data released Tuesday by the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment.

The county’s unemployment rate dipped from 9.5 percent in August to 8.5 percent in September and has remained there since.

Although the unemployment rate has not changed, there has been movement in the number of employed and unemployed people in the county. Although the employment and unemployment tallies each decreased in October compared to September, those totals increased in November. Mesa County added 417 jobs in November over October and experienced a net increase of 36 unemployed residents.

Suzie Miller, business services manager at the Mesa County Workforce Center, said she isn’t surprised more people were working in November. She said the center has posted more job openings so far this year than it did in all of 2008, the year the recession first hit Colorado.

The sector with the most job orders at this time is maintenance, repair and installation, with 22 job orders. That sector also has one of the smallest applicant pools, Miller said.

“For three or four months at least we’ve seen that pick up as a more in-demand area,” Miller said.

Office and construction applicants are the most common job-seekers registered with the workforce but job orders are slow or steady in those areas. Miller said there may be “significantly more” job orders in 2011 than in 2010, but more of those jobs are part-time or offer low pay than jobs offered a few years ago in a healthier local economy.

Miller said it appears the unemployment tally increased more because of new people entering the labor force to seek seasonal or permanent work than because of layoffs. The number of people receiving initial unemployment benefits in November dropped by nearly a third month-over-month to 254 Mesa County residents, and continued claims changed little last month.

The county’s unemployment rate dropped 1.6 percentage points compared with last November. Colorado’s unemployment rate dropped 1.1 percentage points in the same time frame, reaching 7.8 percent this November.

The state’s unemployment rate increased slightly from 7.7 percent in October. Fewer Coloradans were employed in November than in October and the number of unemployed Coloradans increased 1 percent month-over-month.


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