Jobless rate levels off in December

The monthly unemployment rate in Mesa County remained flat for December at 6.9 percent, the same rate reported in November, according to figures released Tuesday by the Colorado Department of Labor.

“We’d obviously like to see that number continue to improve,” said Suzi Miller, business services manager at the Mesa County Workforce Center. “But it’s important to note that over the last several years (unemployment) has gone up from November to December. That didn’t happen this time, so that’s a positive way to look at it.”

The 6.9 percent figure reported in November was the lowest for Mesa County since January 2009.

That was 0.1 percent below October’s 7 percent reading and continued a downward trend that may have leveled out.

“When we look at the entire year, we see we’ve come from 9.2 percent in January to 6.9 percent in December,” Miller said.

“We have to take that as an encouraging sign that things are slowly but surely moving in the right direction,” she said.

In related news, the number of people in the local labor workforce ticked down between November and December, from 78,087 in November to 77,347 in December, according to the data.

The decline was due in part to people deciding to retire early or move to other areas where employment is stronger, Miller said.

“We’re still concerned about that and will continue to monitor that closely,” she said.

The new report ended a trend that saw the lowest monthly Mesa County unemployment figures in September, October and November.

On the plus side, every month this year recorded a lower unemployment rate than the same month in 2012, often by as much as one percentage point or more.

Unfortunately, Mesa County’s unemployment rate continues to lag the state’s. Colorado’s unemployment rate in December was 6.2 percent, 0.7 percent lower than Mesa County’s, the state department of labor said.

According to the survey of households, the state’s unemployment rate decreased three tenths of a percentage point in December to 6.2 percent.

This is the lowest statewide unemployment rate since reaching 6.1 percent in December 2008, it was reported.

The December unemployment rate was 5.8 percent in Garfield County, 7.3 percent in Delta County and 8.5 percent in Montrose County.

Statewide, the economy added 2,200 nonfarm payroll jobs and 2,400 private sector jobs. However, there were 200 fewer government jobs in December compared to November, the department of labor said.


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