Unemployment rate steady in Routt County

Rate at 6 percent in September, mirroring August


By the numbers

September labor force

Colorado: 2.7 million

Routt County: 14,614

Moffat County: 8,843

Grand County: 8,934

Eagle County: 30,469

Jackson County : 1,368

Unemployment percentage

(in Sept. 09, Aug. 09, Sept. 08)

Colorado: 6.7, 7.1, 4.8

Routt County: 6, 5.9, 3.4

Moffat County: 5.6, 5.8, 3.4

Grand County: 5.8, 5.8, 3.6

Eagle County: 6.2, 6.1, 3.5

Jackson County: 3.3, 3.6, 2.4

If you go

What: Winter Job & Resource Fair

When: 10 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Nov. 5

Where: Olympian Hall in Howelsen Lodge

Contact: Call the Workforce Center at 879-3075, e-mail steamboatsprings@..., or visit the office in Sundance Plaza.

— Six percent of Routt County's 14,614-member work force was unemployed in September, according to figures released Wednesday. That amounts to 876 people.

The Colorado Department of Labor and Employment said Colorado's unemployment rate was 6.7 percent in September. That's a slight dip from August's 7.1 percent state rate but is still more than the state's 4.8 percent rate in September 2008.

Those numbers have not been adjusted for typical seasonal changes.

In Routt County, September's 6 percent rate was steady with August's 5.9 percent rate. But local unemployment still is well more than the county's 3.4 percent rate in September 2008.

At the Steamboat Springs office of the Colorado Workforce Center, labor and employment specialist Jackie Mitchell said winter job listings are picking up, especially from resort management companies.

"What we're seeing is a lot of people applying for hospitality jobs," she said Wednesday. "That is definitely the trend."

Mitchell said many listings at the Workforce Center are for housekeeping, cooking and health care positions.

"We're starting to see more jobs, which is great," Mitchell said. "We're helping a ton of people with their resumes."

The growth in local job opportunities is a matter of perspective. Mitchell said the Workforce Center has about 35 job listings, which is up from just seven job listings at one point in recent months, she said.

But normally at this time of year, she said, the Workforce Center has about 150 job listings.

Mitchell said Steamboat Ski and Resort Corp. is not listing jobs with the Workforce Center at the moment, a break from trends as winter approaches. There also is a continuing lack of construction and trade work, Mitchell said.

"No electricians, no pipe fitters, nothing like that," Mitchell said.

On Tuesday at a lunchtime business forum hosted by the Rotary Club of Steamboat Springs, Jamie Morgan, of Mountain Cuts, anecdotally noted a decrease in local construction work.

"Three to 5 o'clock in our store used to be Carhartts and work boots," he said about customers coming in for haircuts. "They're just not there anymore."

The construction industry cut 4,300 jobs statewide in September, according to the state labor department. The federal Bureau of Labor Statistics recorded a loss of 63,000 construction jobs nationwide in September.

Mitchell said an upcoming event could be a valuable resource for local job seekers.

The Workforce Center is hosting a Winter Job & Resource Fair from 10 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Nov. 5 in Olympian Hall at Howelsen Lodge.

Mitchell said the event would offer not only recruitment by local employers, but also resources for job seekers including child care options, human services programs, resume writing techniques, and even consultations about bankruptcy, mortgage refinancing and foreclosure.

Job seekers can call the Workforce Center at 879-3075 or e-mail steamboatsprings@cwfc.net.

Federal figures show a 9.8 percent national unemployment rate in September. Donald Mares, executive director of the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment, took an optimistic view of the state's employment figures.

"September results indicate the worst is behind us here in Colorado," Mares said in a news release. "The trend of fewer job losses should continue in coming months."


Scott Wedel 7 years, 7 months ago

What the article is missing is that number of jobs has been declining in Routt County. The only reason the unemployment rate is low is because the workforce declined more than the number of jobs.

Since 2007 we have lost about 1,000 jobs.


housepoor 7 years, 7 months ago

so scott your saying we also lost an equal amount of residents to jobs?


Scott Wedel 7 years, 7 months ago

Housepoor, The Labor Dept has a model in which they determine the size of the local workforce. Such as seeing if unemployed are actively looking for work. Thus, if you are unemployed and tell a pollster that it is too hard to find a job so you've stopped looking then you are not considered part of the workforce.

The available statistics do not say what happened to the people that are no longer considered part of the local labor force. They may have moved. They may be here and be viewed as not looking for work.

This view of who is in or out of the workforce has leads to misleading numbers. During a downturn the size of the labor force declines due to all of the people "leaving" the labor force. But almost no one believes that someone that worked during good times suddenly decided to stop working during hard times. And then during good times, the size of the labor force increases because of people that were not considered part of the labor force showing up as employed.

That is why people say that the real unemployment rate in Michigan or California is closer to 20%.

Or like here, 1,000 fewer jobs is about 6% of the jobs. If those people did not move away then the real unemployment rate is 6% higher than the official unemployment rate of 6%. So we have an official unemployment rate of 6% and a real unemployment rate of more than 10%.


housepoor 7 years, 7 months ago

thanks scott i was unaware of the details of what those #'s represented


Matthew Stoddard 7 years, 7 months ago

Don't forget- There were some 20 businesses in Ski Time Square that aren't there any more. That's more than 100 people (easily) that would still be working to some degree. That would knock about 1% off the Unemployment Rate.


Scott Ford 7 years, 7 months ago

Hi Scott W. - I agree with you that the survey done by the Bureau of Labor Statistics does have the flaws you mentioned. However, for our little county no survey is done. I think the threshold for doing this monthly survey in a community is a having a civilian workforce is an (SMA) of over 500K. The Colorado Department of Labor and Employment (like all the states )use BLS data for their unemployment calculations.

How it is done for Routt County is a combination of two elements. Civilian workforce (calculated as any warm body between the ages of 16 and 64. Source of this information lags a bit because it is based on individual federal tax return data. Job count includes both full and part-time jobs and is based on federal unemployment insurance data submitted by employers form ES202. The Colorado Department of Labor uses some statistical model that arrives at the number of folks who are counted in the civilian workforce who are actively seeking employment. It is likely close but fuzzy around the edges.

Another quark we have in our data is that ES202 data is employer based. This means that if an employee was a Moffat County resident and worked for a Routt County employer it is counted as Routt County job. This has quark has a tendency to incorrectly reflect the true unemployment situation in both counties. (Overstates Routt and understates Moffat).

I know the model does not account for county of residence and county of work. It assumes that county employers employee workers that live in the same county. In large metro areas this likely evens out. In small counties with a lot of cross county employment flowing one direction - the model does not work as well.

In addition, we have a high number of "one-man-band" businesses that although working and earning an income (like me) never are counted in ES202 data. What all this means is that it likely that the true unemployment rate in Routt County is overstated by some factor. What likely is occurring is that the number of folks working more than one job has declined and the number of hours associated with those jobs has declined. The impact is essentially the same - fewer dollars in people's pockets.


max huppert 7 years, 7 months ago

wonder how many job openings the mountain will even have this year.


seeuski 7 years, 7 months ago

I think Scott Wedel has described the current state of affairs pretty well. One thing not mentioned here is the immigrants that made up a huge bloc of the employed and have gone back and how those numbers were counted or not counted. The employers that were eliminated from Ski Time square will be replaced with the new location at One Steamboat Place which will house several new business's and quite frankly in this economic downturn many of those business's probably would have folded as has been the case in town. A Spa is gone 2 restaurants are gone and certainly many home based contractors and others are drying on the vine. Just one look at the daily pilot papers employment section can give a clue what used to be 3 pages is now less than a half page.


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