Mesa County job figures improve

After the local jobless rate jumped in the first month of this year, new state employment data show a slight dip in the rate for February.

Now standing at 8.1 percent, Mesa County’s jobless rate ticked down two-tenths of a percent from the 8.3 percent recorded in January.

Further, it seems the improving unemployment rate in the county is happening as the local labor force expands, as opposed to dropping the unemployment percentage because more people left the local workforce, or quit looking for work altogether.

According to the data, the local labor force tallied 76,629 workers, up from the 75,907 recorded in January.

Employment in Mesa County overall bumped up month over month, with 70,428 people employed in February 2014 versus 69,617 in January.

It’s been a steady decline, with a few spikes here and there, since the unemployment rate in Mesa County peaked at a whopping 11.9 percent in January 2011. That month the number of local folks in the labor market totaled 77,115, not far from the labor force number tallied for February 2014.

Over recent history, the best showing for the local jobless rate happened in April 2008, when Mesa County’s jobless rate bottomed out at 3.2 percent.

As with many other economic indicators, communities on the Western Slope are lagging in the economic recovery as compared with their Front Range counterparts.

The unemployment rate is further confirmation of that, as the statewide unemployment rate was reported Friday to be 6.7 percent for February 2014.

That 6.7 percent is also what the federal government is reporting as the national jobless rate.


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