Steamboat Springs The number of unemployed Routt County residents increased by 142 people from March to April, even as the work force dropped by nearly a thousand people.
That represented a rise in the unemployment rate from 7.7 percent in March to 9.2 percent in April, according to a news release from the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment. In April 2009, the county’s unemployment rate was 7.9 percent.
Brian Bradbury, an employment specialist with the Steamboat Springs branch of the Colorado Workforce Center, said this area normally sees an increase in unemployment from March to April because many winter jobs ending and many summer jobs have not begun.
“It’s a little bit higher than I would have expected, but it’s not surprising,” he said Monday.
Statewide, the average unemployment in April was 8 percent, the same as the year before.
The total labor force in Routt County dropped from 15,619 in March to 14,631 in April, and the number of unemployed residents increased from 1,199 to 1,341 during that time.
The unemployment rate dropped in 51 counties and stayed the same in two. Routt was among the 11 counties that experienced an increase.
Labor Department executive Donald J. Mares said the increase in the unemployment rate is from people starting to look for work again.
Colorado “is now seeing thousands of formerly discouraged job seekers who had abandoned their job search renewing their efforts,” Mares said in a news release. “That influx of workers caused the unemployment rate to bump up in April.”
Bradbury said that’s especially true in Routt County because of the many seasonal jobs.
“As you start approaching summertime, people who haven’t been able to find wintertime jobs begin searching again,” he said.
Other tourism-driven counties fared slightly better than Routt. Pitkin County, home to Aspen, had an April unemployment rate of 7.6 percent. Summit County, with Silverthorne and Breckenridge, had 6.1 percent unemployment in April.
Bradbury said the unemployment rate in Routt is within the normal range.
“I think it’s in the typical ballpark,” he said. “I wish it was down much, much lower, and any unemployment is something you want to watch.”