Local unemployment rate 9.6 percent in January
Mesa County’s unemployment rate in January jumped to its highest point in six months, as 9.6 percent of the local workforce was unemployed, according to data released Tuesday by the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment.
January’s local unemployment rate was nearly one percentage point higher than December’s rate of 8.7 percent. Colorado’s unemployment rate jumped as well, going from 7.7 percent in December to 8.4 percent in January. The state and the county increased their unemployment rates by counting fewer employed people month-over-month in January and more unemployed people.
The first month of the year is usually the hardest on job-seekers, according to Mesa County Workforce Center Business Services Manager Suzie Miller. The month with the highest local unemployment rate in 2011 was January, at 11.4 percent.
“We kind of anticipate a slight spike in January because the seasonal retail jobs end in January, and there is typically less construction going on,” Miller said.
The warm weather and impending spring coincided with an uptick in construction and extraction job listings on the workforce center’s website. There are more job offerings, 22, in that category than in any other workforce center category, followed by office and transportation jobs with 17 positions each.
The workforce center had 223 job postings Tuesday and has posted 548 job orders so far in 2012: a 40 percent jump compared with the first 72 days of 2009 and a 16 percent increase year-to-date over job postings at the same time last year.
Construction/extraction and office jobs are on the rise, but there is plenty of competition for those jobs. Those two categories have the most applicants registered with the workforce center, with 1,250 locals seeking jobs in construction or extraction and 1,436 locals seeking jobs in office work.
“No other sector is even close to that many applicants. The next one is sales with 698,” Miller said.
Miller said she expects March to be a busy month at the workforce center not only because of job-seeking activity, but because the most recent unemployment-benefit-extension law takes effect this month. The law requires anyone getting an unemployment-benefit extension to meet with a workforce-center employment specialist to discuss resources and services job-seekers can use to help themselves get a job.
One-hundred-fifty-five more Mesa County residents received unemployment benefits in January than in December for a total of 1,545 benefit recipients.