Steamboat Springs Routt County’s unemployment rate decreased to 7.9 percent in December from 9.8 percent in November, according to figures released Tuesday by the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment.
Although the department’s latest county-by-county statistics don’t take into account seasonal factors such as ski tourism in winter and agriculture in summer, Routt County’s numbers appear encouraging.
While Routt County’s labor force increased by 1,178 workers from November to December, the number of employed workers increased by 1,339 — indicating that some people in addition to seasonal workers could have found jobs at the end of 2010.
Routt County’s number of people designated “unemployed” decreased from 1,326 in November to 1,165 in December, according to the state labor department.
The numbers are less encouraging, though, when compared with December 2009. Routt County’s non-seasonally-adjusted unemployment rate for that month was 6.2 percent, with 922 people designated “unemployed.”
Routt County had a work force of 14,815 with 13,893 people working in December 2009, compared with a work force of 14,679 and 13,514 people working in December 2010.
Half of Colorado’s counties saw an improvement in unemployment figures from November to December 2010.
Not-adjusted unemployment rates for December 2010, compared with November, increased in 32 of Colorado’s 64 counties, decreased in 23 and remained unchanged in nine, according to the department.
The lowest rate was 4 percent in Cheyenne County, and the highest was 18.5 percent in Dolores County.
Seasonally adjusted figures for Colorado, overall, showed a slight increase in unemployment, from 8.6 percent in November to 8.8 percent in December.
The Denver Post reported Tuesday that Colorado’s December rate of 8.8 percent was an all-time high for the state, matched only for a few months in 1982 and 1983.
The state’s three consecutive months with unemployment higher than 8.5 percent — October, November and December — could allow Colorado to qualify for a six-week extension of federal unemployment benefits for those out of work more than 93 weeks. The extension is pending confirmation from the federal government, the Post reported.
More information can be found at www.colorado.gov/cdle, through the “File for Emergency Unemployment Compensation” link, marked in all capital letters under the “Unemployment Information” heading.
Labor and employment specialist Jackie Mitchell said the Steamboat Springs branch of the Colorado Workforce Center had about 18 jobs available Tuesday.
“It’s still pretty low,” Mitchell said about the availability.
She said jobs include positions at the Coca-Cola plant in Hayden and the Pepsi plant in Craig; a plant engineer position at Hayden Station power plant; a few positions with Steamboat Ski and Resort Corp., including a Central Reservations post, a winter activity attendant and others; security positions and a job for a concrete form-setter.
She said construction workers continue to seek work as a result of the industry’s local struggles.
“We’ve been having those guys apply for maintenance positions, groundskeeping positions,” Mitchell said. “That’s one thing we’ve seen a lot of.”
Ellen Golombek, executive director of the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment — the state Senate confirmed her nomination Monday — said positive labor indicators offset the state’s increasing unemployment.
“Despite the rising unemployment rate, we’ve had over the year wage and salary employment growth in Colorado for the first time in almost two and a half years,” Golombek said in a news release.
“And, we’ve added jobs four consecutive months.”
The national unemployment rate decreased from 9.8 percent in November to 9.4 percent in December, according to the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics.
— To reach Mike Lawrence, call 970-871-4233 or e-mail mlawrence@SteamboatToday.com