State unemployment rates improve this spring

Mesa County had a 6.5 percent unemployment rate in June, capping a spring season that boasted the lowest jobless rates recorded in the county in five-and-a-half years.

The local unemployment rate dipped below 7 percent for the first time since January 2009 in April with a jobless rate of 6.8 percent, followed by a 6.4 percent unemployment rate in May. The slight uptick in the county’s unemployment rate month over month in June is likely due to a seasonal influx of students entering the labor force seeking summer employment, according to Mesa County Workforce Center Business Development Representative Curtis Englehart.

“It’s hard to say what the rest of the year will look like, but we can definitely be cautiously optimistic,” Englehart said.

Both the county and the state counted more job-seekers and job-holders in June than in May, but the state gained workers and dropped 717 people from the unemployment roster while the county added 71 people to the unemployment tally and experienced a net drop of 34 workers month over month.

As a result, Colorado’s unemployment rate decreased month over month in Colorado from 5.5 percent in May to 5.4 percent in June, according to state and county data released Friday by the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment.

June’s jobless rate was the lowest for Colorado since November 2008.

Both the county and the state had more employed people in June 2014 than they had in June 2013 and fewer unemployed residents than they had in June 2013, when the state unemployment rate was 7.3 percent and Mesa County’s unemployment rate was 8.8 percent.

The state gained 35,929 workers and job-seekers in one year, while the county lost 879 workers and job-seekers in that time.

While it’s hard to tell how many people have dropped out of the labor force because they got discouraged, moved or ran out of unemployment benefits, there are more job openings available this summer and fewer people filing for unemployment benefits.

The number of current unemployment benefit recipients in Mesa County declined from 1,199 last June to 913 this June. New filings for unemployment in the county dipped from 217 in June 2013 to 180 in June 2014.

Last month, the workforce center listed 309 job orders, which are job listings that may include one or several job openings at one company.

That’s 57 more job orders than the center listed last June and 74 more than the center listed pre-recession in June 2008.

Still, Englehart said most of those jobs six years ago were full-time while many now are lower-paying part-time jobs.


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