Jobless rate higher for 2nd month

Mesa County’s seasonally-adjusted unemployment rate climbed one-tenth of a percentage point for the second consecutive month, tying the national average of 9.6 percent last month.

Colorado’s unemployment rate reached its highest point of the decade, 8.4 percent, in October. Mesa County’s October unemployment rate was the third highest recorded locally this decade, trailing only March’s rate of 9.9 percent and February’s 9.7 percent.

Mesa County Workforce Center Director Sue Tuffin said the minimal changes in the local unemployment rate since this spring may give way to larger upticks as the weather cools and construction and landscaping jobs begin to dissipate.

The good news for November and December is seasonal hiring is making a small comeback from last year, when there was “hardly any” seasonal hiring for the holidays, Tuffin said. Some department stores and other retailers are giving more hours to part-time workers instead of hiring seasonal workers, but Tuffin said she is happy to see any small upticks in hiring.

“I’m always hopeful and optimistic we’ll begin to see an improvement, but people have to be realistic and realize we’re not going to see a dramatic drop” in the unemployment rate, she said.

The county’s population of unemployed people remained steady at 7,400 in September and October. The unemployment rate shifted because the county lost 1,100 employed people in October compared to September, according to the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment.

People moving, quitting their jobs to stay at home or giving up on finding work may explain how the employment total could decline without making a difference in the unemployment count.

A total of 77,100 Mesa County residents searched for or maintained employment last month. In October 2008, 82,700 people were employed or searching for employment in the county.


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