Mesa County has best employment 
month in 4 years

Mesa County’s unemployment rate hit its lowest point in more than four years last month, reaching 8.2 percent, according to data released Friday by the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment.

Colorado’s unemployment rate also fell, landing at 6.8 percent in April. That’s the lowest unemployment rate Colorado has recorded since the state unemployment rate was 5.8 percent in December 2008, according to the CDLE.

Mesa County Workforce Center Director Sue Tuffin said a down-tick in unemployment rates is common in April because warmer weather work in construction, landscaping and tourism-related industries becomes available.

But she’s hopeful the local employment situation will continue to improve throughout this year.

“We’re up over 1,200 job listings, compared to a little over 1,100 (at this time) last year so it’s going in the right direction,” Tuffin said.

A lower unemployment rate doesn’t necessarily mean a full return to pre-recession employment. While the unemployment rate improved locally and statewide, there were fewer jobs in Mesa County and Colorado in April than there were during the months when local and state unemployment rates were last this low.

There were 12,000 fewer employed people in April than in December 2008 in Colorado and nearly 30,000 more unemployed people statewide.

In Mesa County, more than 6,000 fewer people were employed in April than in February 2009, when the unemployment rate was 7.5 percent — the last time Mesa County’s unemployment rate was below 8 percent. Eighty-one more Mesa County residents were unemployed in April than were in February 2009.

Tuffin said the 7 percent decline in job-holders or job-seekers over the last 50 months is likely the result of a combination of people becoming discouraged who stop looking for work and people moving out of the area to find work in areas that have recovered more quickly from the recession. Even as the jobs situation improved here, Tuffin said she does not believe the number of people who become encouraged to look for work again who will be listed as unemployed until they get a job will inflate the area’s unemployment rate.

“There are going to be more folks going to work even if job-seekers come back, so there will be enough churn to continue to see the unemployment rate go down,” she said.


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