County, U.S. jobless rates 
hit new lows

Colorado’s unemployment fell slightly to a seasonally adjusted 7.2 percent in February, down a tenth of a percentage point.

In Mesa County, meanwhile, the not-seasonally adjusted rate also slipped a tenth of a percentage point, to 9.1 percent, state officials said Friday.

The national unemployment rate declined to 7.7 percent in February.

“We anticipate hovering in the 9 percent, 9.2 percent range until the weather warms up,” and landscaping, construction and other industries swing into business, Mesa County Workforce Center Director Sue Tuffin said.

January is typically the highest month of the year for unemployment as a result of layoffs after the holiday season, Tuffin said. This January was made all the more difficult because of the layoffs from the now-closed Choice Hotels call center on Orchard Mesa, Tuffin noted.

“We’re happy to see the housing market starting to turn around. Every little bit helps,” he said.

The unemployment rate for Mesa County, also called the Grand Junction Metropolitan Statistical Area, was the brightest spot in western Colorado, according to figures released by the state Department of Labor and Employment.

Mesa County’s rate was down from 9.2 percent in January and from 9.9 percent in February 2012.

The unemployment rate in Montrose County was 10.8 percent, up from 10.5 percent in January, while that of Delta County was 8.7 percent, up from 8.5 percent the previous month.

Garfield County’s unemployment rate was steady at 7.8 percent and that of Rio Blanco County was up slightly to 7 percent from 6.9 percent.

Mesa County’s labor force saw a slight monthly increase to 78,351, up from 78,147, according to the state report.

Statewide, the number of Coloradans in the labor force increased 18,600, total employment increased 44,700 and the number of unemployed decreased 26,200.

According to seasonally adjusted figures, employment in construction was up by about 1,000 jobs statewide and down 100 jobs statewide in the mining and logging category when compared to January 2013.


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