Jobless rate ticks back up to 9% in June

Unemployment up across state amid some seasonal fluctuations

A month after Mesa County’s unemployment rate dipped below 8 percent for the first time since February 2009, the local unemployment rate shot back up to 9 percent in June, according to data released Friday by the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment.

The increase was the result of both a 1 percent drop in the number of employed people in the county month-over-month in June and a 14.8 percent increase in the number of unemployed county residents.

Mesa County Workforce Center Business Services Manager Suzie Miller said the unemployment fluctuation is disappointing but expected. Colorado followed the trend, going from a statewide unemployment rate of 6.8 percent in May to 7.6 percent in June.

June is a month when college students come home looking for summer work and people encouraged by the increased number of seasonal jobs enter the workforce to try to find employment.

“We can’t really attribute the increase to significant layoffs so we do think there’s some correlation with the season,” Miller said. Miller said layoffs are an unlikely cause for the increase particularly because new filings for unemployment claims hit their lowest point since September 2008 in June with 217 new claims. March 2009 was the county’s worst month in recent history for new unemployment claims, with 1,012 new filings.

The local labor force tapered off in the following years but is starting to rebuild, Miller said. There were fewer employed Mesa County residents in June than in May, also a robust time for seasonal work. But there were more Mesa County residents employed in June than in any other month besides May in the first half of the year.

The workforce center listed 1,775 job orders in 2013 as of Thursday. During the same time period in 2012, the center posted 1,661 job orders.

“We’re still chugging along, getting employers who want to do hiring events, which is an indicator things are tightening up a bit in terms of qualified candidates,” Miller said.

June’s unemployment rate was 7.7 percent in Delta County, 7.3 percent in Garfield County and 9.9 percent in Montrose County. Those rates were an increase from 7 percent in Delta County, 6.8 percent in Garfield County and 9 percent in Montrose County in May.


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