Unemployment rate in Mesa County drops to 7.9 percent



The Grand Junction Economic Partnership reports the vast majority of Mesa County workers are employed by small business. With 100 or more workers on the payroll, large employers that responded to the economic partnership’s latest survey reported the following number of employees:

Mesa County School District: 2,373

St. Mary’s Hospital: 1,531

Mesa County: 987

State of Colorado: 759

VA Medical Center: 648

City Market: 638

City of Grand Junction: 636

Community Hospital: 585

Colorado Mesa University: 582

Family Health West Hospital: 377

Source: Grand Junction Economic Partnership

Mesa County employers hired 400 more workers in August than they did in July, Colorado Department of Labor and Employment reported last week.

The added jobs helped reduce the county’s monthly unemployment rate from 8.3 percent in July to 7.9 percent in August, the lowest monthly rate since May.

The new report continues a trend that started in January, said Suzie Miller, business services manager for the Mesa County Workforce Center.

Every month this year recorded a lower unemployment rate than the same month in 2012, often by as much as one percentage point or more, Miller said.

New unemployment claims also fell in August compared to July and the workforce center saw more job postings in August than it did in August 2008, shortly before the Great Recession began, she said,

Though the August numbers were generally positive, Miller cautioned the drop in unemployment was partially due to a decrease in the total Mesa County workforce. Students who returned to school are not counted, for example, nor are discouraged workers who stopped looking, she said.

While the unemployment rate is trending down, most of the new jobs tend to be in the service sector, which pay less, Miller said.

“Mesa County’s wages are still 81 percent of the national average,” she said.

In addition, Mesa County’s unemployment rate lags the state’s. Colorado’s unemployment rate in August was 6.7 percent, 1.2 percent lower than Mesa County’s, the department of labor said.

The August unemployment rate was 6.3 percent in Garfield County, 7.1 percent in Delta County and 8.4 percent in Montrose County. Delta’s rate increased by one-tenth of a percentage point and Garfield’s increased by two-tenths of a percentage point month-over-month, while Montrose County’s decreased by two-tenths of a percentage point over the same period.


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