Unemployment rate flat at local, state levels

Colorado and Mesa County job markets struggled to regain normalcy in September.

The county’s 9.4 percent seasonally adjusted unemployment rate in September, which did not move from August’s rate, may be the new normal for now, Mesa County Workforce Center Director Sue Tuffin said.

“There are no huge hiring pushes going on right now,” she said.

Tuffin said the unemployment rate over the winter could be affected by seasonal hiring or a weather-related slowdown in construction. But it will take a while to change by more than a few percentage points, she predicted.

“How long that while is is the question,” Tuffin said.

While the number of unemployed people counted in Mesa County last month stayed steady from the previous month at 7,400 people, the county lost 100 employed people. Colorado gained 1,600 employees between August and September, but added 2,400 people to the unemployment roster, raising the state’s unemployment rate one-tenth of a percentage point to 8.2 percent.

Colorado was one of only eight states to experience both a year-over-year and month-to-month unemployment rate increase in September. The state tied with New Mexico for the 22nd-lowest seasonally adjusted unemployment rate among the 50 states and Washington, D.C.

Mountain states are having some of the greatest trouble getting back on their feet. Utah, Arizona, Nevada and Idaho are included in the top 10 list of states with the highest foreclosure rates and mountain, entertainment and resort towns aren’t having much luck in a “staycation” society.

“When you have tourism as a sector of your economy, then you’re going to suffer in a recession,” Tuffin said.

Nevada and Montana had the largest year-over-year unemployment rate increases in the country, with Nevada increasing 1.7 percentage points to 14.4 percent in September, and Montana’s rate increasing nine-tenths of a percentage point to 7.4 percent. Nevada had the highest unemployment rate in the U.S. in September, edging Michigan by 1.4 percentage points.


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