May jobless rate 
below 8 percent, 1st time since ‘08

Mesa County’s unemployment rate dipped below 8 percent for the first time since February 2009 in May, according to data released Friday by the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment.

The county had an unemployment rate of 7.9 percent last month, down from 8.2 percent in April. Local employment increased by 1.7 percent month-over-month to 72,418 workers while unemployment declined by 2.6 percent to 6,188 job-seekers.

Even though unemployment figures ticked down slightly and the number of employed Coloradans moved slightly up month-to-month, Colorado’s unemployment rate remained unmoved between April and May at 6.8 percent.

Despite the county’s unemployment rate dropping a full percentage point in May 2013 compared to May 2012, the number of people either working or pursuing employment in Mesa County is relatively flat compared to last May, when the unemployment roster had 807 more names and the number of employed residents was 758 names shorter.

The labor force in Mesa County was more robust the last time local unemployment was below 8 percent.

There were more than 5,000 more county residents working or seeking work in February 2009 than there were this May. Just 76 more county residents were unemployed in February 2009 than in May 2013.

Mesa County Workforce Center Business Services Manager Suzie Miller said the county is about 6,700 jobs away from returning to peak employment levels of August 2008.

More full-time work in particular is needed, she said. While the state lists 72,418 people as employed here in May, Miller said there are so many part-time jobs in that figure that the full-time equivalent of those positions is 60,100.

“To see a decrease in our unemployment and an increase in our labor force are two positive indicators, although our labor force remains below where it should,” Miller said. “It’s encouraging to be below 8 percent but there’s still a long way to go before we see a lot of positive things coming out of our economy.”

One positive sign for job-seekers is the number of job orders posted so far this year tallied 1,513 as of Thursday, up from 1,409 at the same point in 2012. It’s the best year-to-date job order total as of June 20 since 2007, when the center had posted 1,901 job orders.


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