Mesa County jobless rate up in June

More unemployed and fewer employed residents raised Mesa County’s unemployment rate 0.4 of a percentage point month-over-month to 10.3 percent in June.

The non-seasonally-adjusted rate was affected by students entering the work force in search of summer employment, a common reason why June traditionally has a higher unemployment rate than May, according to Mesa County Workforce Center Director Sue Tuffin.

Colorado’s non-seasonally-adjusted unemployment rate also increased in June compared to May, going from 8.5 to 8.7 percent.

The addition of 279 names to the Mesa County list of local unemployed people in June, a 3.7 percent increase from May, isn’t much of a change or cause for concern, Tuffin said. But she is concerned about the drop in the overall labor force, which includes job-holders and job-seekers.

The Mesa County labor force lost 3,475 people between June 2010 and June 2011. About 90 percent of that tally came from the list of employed residents.

Tuffin said she originally thought the continuing trend of losing people from the labor force meant people were going back to school or getting so discouraged with their job search they stopped looking.

But with School District 51 estimating it may lose as many as 200 students over the summer, Tuffin said she is starting to think her earlier ideas represent only part of what’s going on.

“I think we may be losing families,” Tuffin said. “There’s no place people have to check in and tell you they’re leaving, so we have to grab bits and pieces where we can, but a decreasing census in the school district and business closures indicate people are leaving.”

Tuffin said she is not sure where they’re going, but District 51 Executive Director of Support Services Melissa Callahan DeVita said during budget meetings this spring and summer she suspects parents may see a chance this summer to move to places with lower unemployment rates, including parts of the country that may have entered the recession earlier than Mesa County and are recovering from it faster.


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