Jobless rate is stagnant, still lower than 2010

Mesa County’s unemployment rate remained at 8.5 percent while Colorado’s stayed at 7.7 percent for a second consecutive month in October, according to the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment.

Mesa County’s October rate was down a full percentage point from the 9.5 percent it posted a year ago, while the state had an 8.4 percent unemployment rate in October 2010.

Forty-six fewer Mesa County residents were listed as unemployed in October compared with September. There were 6,595 unemployed Mesa County residents last month.

There also were fewer people employed locally in October compared with September. In October, 70,891 county residents had jobs, a 324-person drop from September.

Suzie Miller, interim business services manager at the Mesa County Workforce Center, said seasonal hiring for the holidays sometimes begins in October and helps increase the number of employees in an area. Seasonal hiring has been more sparse the past few years, though, Miller said. So far, it appears this year is no exception.

“We have a feeling more stores are giving their part-time employees more hours” instead of hiring temporary employees, Miller said.

Mesa Mall Marketing Manager Jammie McCloud agreed retailers at the mall aren’t hiring as many people as they did before the recession. But she said some new jobs are appearing at the mall as stores extend hours for holiday shopping.

“Typically (retailers) have about a 12 percent increase in employees” during the holidays, McCloud said. The mall also has 10 retailers with temporary leases, creating jobs in November and December alone. November unemployment data will be released in four weeks.

Miller said there is bad and good news in the current job market. The number of new unemployment filings in Mesa County increased from 275 in September to 376 in October. The number of locals continuing to receive unemployment benefits also increased, from 1,086 in September to 1,123 in October.

The number of job listings posted by the workforce center has increased. The center posted 2,364 jobs in the first 10 months of 2011, the most since 2008, when the center posted 2,387 jobs through October.

There were 1,531 job orders in the first 10 months of 2009 and 1,837 job orders in the first 10 months of 2010, according to Miller. Job orders can include more than one open position.

The number of employed people in the county changed little year-over-year. The number of unemployed people decreased by 11.6 percent in October 2011 compared to October 2010, when the local unemployment rate was 9.5 percent.

Mesa County had the 15th-highest unemployment rate in October in Colorado among its 64 counties.


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