Mesa County jobless rate dips in February

Mesa County’s unemployment rate dipped from 9.6 percent in January to 9.3 percent in February, according to data released Friday by the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment.

While the county’s tally of job-holders and job-seekers remained relatively unmoved from one month to the other at 78,982, a larger portion of the labor force had jobs in February compared to January. The county had 218 more employed people month-over-month in February and 192 fewer unemployed residents.

The upward trend in employment was present in the state overall, helping Colorado’s unemployment rate decrease to 8.2 percent in February, a two-tenths of a percentage point drop compared with January and an eight-tenths of a percentage point decline compared with February 2010.

Mesa County’s unemployment rate was 11 percent in February 2010, and the percentage-point drop of 1.7 this February is a good sign for Mesa County’s economy, according to Suzie Miller, business services manager at the Mesa County Workforce Center.

The good news has continued this month, she said. The workforce center listed 709 job orders so far this year, the highest amount for the first quarter since 2008, when the center listed 746 job orders. The job orders listed in March alone outpaced by 20 the job orders posted in March 2008, when the county had 3.7 percent unemployment and a slightly larger labor force.

The most job orders available Friday were in sales, 25, followed by 24 job orders in construction and extraction and 21 job orders in office and administrative support. Office and construction/extraction jobs also had the most applicants.

Miller said jobs are filling quickly, which she believes shows some people who had become discouraged in their job search may have found a renewed sense of optimism. But it’s early in the year, and Miller said it may be too soon to tell if a true recovery is headed this direction.

“I still feel we’re seeing some businesses being cautious as far as increasing staff or adding staff. They’re probably not creating as many positions as we’d been hoping for,” she said.


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