Routt County unemployment rate increases in October


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For information about and help with unemployment, contact the Steamboat Springs branch of the Colorado Workforce Center at 970-879-3075, visit it at 425 Anglers Drive or click here.

— Routt County’s unemployment rate increased from 5.9 percent in September to 6.1 percent in October, according to figures released Friday by the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment. The figure hasn’t been adjusted for normal seasonal changes.

The Routt County number represents a decrease in employment and the size of the labor force. Employment decreased from 13,748 in September to 13,610 in October. The labor force decreased from 14,610 in September to 14,497 in October.

That’s in line with what the Steamboat Springs branch of the Colorado Workforce Center is seeing, employment specialist Brian Bradbury said.

“We’re seeing a lot of people coming in asking us about moving to another state and claiming (unemployment) on Colorado still,” Bradbury said. “That’s the way you have to do it, so we’re seeing people telling us they’re leaving the valley because they can’t make it here.”

In past years, it’s been a different story. Routt County’s unemployment rate was 3.9 percent in October 2008, and the labor force was 15,924 strong.

“Normally, we would see the labor force going up because of the ski area opening and all of the associated business going with it, but we’re seeing just the opposite,” Bradbury said.

October’s figure represents 887 Routt residents unemployed, up from 862 in Septe­mber. Bradbury said he hasn’t seen improvement in the local job market during the past six to eight months. The center’s job listings are increasing, he said, but not nearly as much as they typically would this time of year.

The Workforce Center is dealing with new and old unemployment claims, Bradbury said. Some people are entering the rolls of the unemployed as businesses close or as they finish projects in the trade field.

“The outlook based on what we see for the future is unemployment is going to stay in the same place it is now,” he said.

Other work force centers in rural resort towns are reporting similar trends, Bradbury said.

Statewide, Colorado’s unemployment rate decreased to 6.9 percent in October from 7 percent in September. Those figures are adjusted for normal seasonal changes. The statewide unemployment rate was 5.3 percent in October 2008. Nationally, unemployment is 10.2 percent.

According to a news release from the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment:

“The unemployment rate (not seasonally adjusted) declined in 28 of Colorado’s 64 counties, increased in 25 and remained unchanged in 11. The lowest rate was 2.1 percent in Che­y­e­nne County and the highest was 13.5 percent in Dolores County.”

Employment in five industries increased in October, according to the release. Jobs were added in government; education; health services; professional and business services; and trade, transportation, information and utilities.

Industries that saw job losses were leisure and hospitality, construction and manufacturing, financial activities, as well as other services, mining and logging. Leisure and hospitality jobs are expected to increase as ski season starts, the release stated.


Scott Wedel 7 years, 6 months ago

The more relevant numbers are not month to month (Sept vs August) which move up and down here with all of our seasonal businesses, but compared to a year ago. Raw data is at and then selected LAU (local area) and "One Screen".

Sept 2007 had 15,152 employed and 409 unemployed Sept 2008 had 14,949 and 513 Sept 2009 had 13,748 employed and 876 unemployed.

Aug to Sept normally loses jobs here. 08/07 to 09/07 lost 579 jobs. 08/08 to 09/08 lost 589 jobs. 08/09 to 09/09 lost 702 jobs.

With all of the lost jobs, (down 1,400 jobs in two years), the real effect is much worse than the 6.2% official rate. We have a lot of independent contractors and part time workers that normally work several jobs that are not counted as unemployed.


cindy constantine 7 years, 6 months ago

Good analysis, Scott. What is equally disturbing is Intrawest being 1.3 BILLION in debt with a loan that was due to be paid off last year. A one year extension was granted and they just got another 6 month extension. Guess that contract price on Copper of $100 million won't go terribly far in reducing the debt. Last year's numbers on the mountain were pretty abysmal. Let's hope this year is no worse . . . . . . . . . .


Scott Wedel 7 years, 6 months ago

I am not terribly worried about Intrawest or Fortress. If there are bankruptcies then the ski area will continue operating while the debt is restructured. The ski area is not in the middle of a major capital improvement program that might be stopped by a bankruptcy.

I am far more interested in the various local developers that appear to be in financial troubles. When the managing partner of the 360 development has properties in foreclosure and a stack of unpaid property taxes then that raises questions about that project. Not paying property taxes is a way to temporarily conserve cash at currently 10% interest rates plus modest fees. And when a guy like that cannot borrow money from his banker at less than 10% then his fellow investors can spin it as much as they want, but he has issues.


seeuski 7 years, 6 months ago

We need to look outside the county at the national picture to see where we are headed. Just as we were slower to be effected by the start of the housing crisis a couple of years ago, we may also realize a further slowing of the local economy as the whiplash effect continues. We will suffer the consequences of what our elected leaders are doing as the worsening national unemployment rate indicates. The world economy is also playing a role in our local economic health as we are a tourist attraction with many international travelers. We are all in this ship together as we sail through these troubled waters.


housepoor 7 years, 6 months ago

i agree seeuski, we were late to go in and will be late coming out. I do think that the tourists will return well before the real estate market rebounds


Scott Wedel 7 years, 6 months ago

Other resort areas starting feeling the recession in second half 2007 when it started affecting the rest of the country. I think we continued on booming because of the Intrawest purchase of the ski area.

Historically, resort RE takes a bigger hit than RE nationally during a recession because people need their primary home far more than they need a vacation home. For the same reason, resort RE takes longer to recover because people rebuild their personal financial situation before feeling good enough to buy a vacation home.

I think much of what was built recently that was targeted towards baby boomers taking early retirement in luxury is going to prove difficult to sell. The market has slowed so much that it is possible that the older baby boomers tired of high altitude winters will largely saturate the market selling to the younger baby boomers.

A big question will be how many people that can work anywhere will see a dip in prices as an opportunity to make SB their primary residence. That could lead us to an earlier recovery than seen in previous recessions.

Tourism is historically not as severely affected by recessions because people still need to take a break. People will tend to spend less, but that can mean a Colorado ski vacation on a budget instead of more expensive alternatives. I think tourism this winter will probably be similar or better than last winter.


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