Jobless rate in Montrose at 14-year high

MONTROSE — The unemployment rate in Montrose County reached a 14-year high when it rose to 11.2 percent in December, according to unadjusted figures released this week by the Colorado Department of Labor.

December figures show 2,236 workers remain unemployed within the county, up 100 workers from the previous month.

The 11.2 percent figure puts Montrose County well above the state average of 8.6 percent and the national average of 9.4 percent.

Unemployment in Montrose could rise more in January with the recent closure of nine local businesses.

Local restaurants Belly, Gessepi’s Italian Delicatessen, Black Diamond Cafe, Cazwellas, Cheap Charlies and Maui Wowi shut their doors in recent months. And local retailers Cimarron Creek, Ashley Furniture HomeStore and Harley Davidson have followed suit.

Montrose Downtown Development Authority chairman Bob Brown, who co-owns Around the Corner Art Gallery with his wife, Pat, said some businesses are starting to hire again, which he hopes will offset the business closures somewhat.

“I’ve talked to a lot of people, and it seems like we take one step forward and two steps back,” Brown said, adding the unemployment figures suggest to him Montrose is at the bottom right now.

Brown said the DDA is cautiously optimistic about a turnaround this year, and the organization is working with downtown businesses to spark a renewal in storefronts along Main Street.

“I think we’re poised for progress,” he said. “Any recovery in the economy will help.”

Colorado saw growth in wage and salary employment for the first time in two years, despite the continuing rise in unemployment within Colorado, according to Ellen Golombek, executive director of the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment.

The record high for unemployment in Montrose County was 12.1 percent in February 1992.


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