■ Contact the Colorado Workforce Center for information about jobs, training courses and unemployment benefits. Call 970-879-3075, visit www.yourworkforcecenter.com or visit the center’s Steamboat Springs branch, 425 Anglers Drive. Unemployment information and resources also are available at www.colorado.gov/cdle.
■ On Wednesdays, the Workforce Center hosts an open hotline to the Labor Department in Denver from 9 to 11:30 a.m. and from 1 to 3:30 p.m. That allows people to ask questions of the state agency with a much shorter wait than they would encounter by using the agency’s toll-free number.
Steamboat Springs Routt County’s unemployment rate again has crept into double digits.
Unemployment numbers increased from March to April in Routt County, from 8.3 percent to 10 percent, according to figures released Friday by the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment. Those numbers don’t include typical seasonal changes, however, so they don’t account for changes that occur as Steamboat Ski Area closes.
April’s rate is the highest since May 2010, when the jobless rate was 10.4 percent in Routt. In April 2010, the figure was 10.9 percent. That figure was the highest it had been since May 1992, when the unemployment rate was 12.7 percent.
Statewide unemployment was 8.8 percent in April, down from 9.2 percent in March. The statewide figures are seasonally adjusted.
“Overall, the state went down, which is really nice,” said Brian Bradbury, an employment specialist with the Steamboat Springs branch of the Colorado Workforce Center. “But I think, you know, because we’re all used to the mud season, or the off season, it really takes several months of consistency to really see something. I think we all expect a higher unemployment rate for April.”
Routt County’s April jobless rate represents 1,385 people unemployed out of a labor force of 13,825 — 12,440 people had jobs. With the end of the ski season, the number of people in Routt’s labor pool decreased.
In March, when the season was in full swing, 1,265 people were unemployed out of a labor force of 15,224 — 13,959 people had jobs.
“Talking to people as they come in the door, talking to people outside, there’s definitely a real strong filing for unemployment still, and people are still going into their extended benefits both the federal and the state,” Bradbury said.
April’s numbers represent a decrease in the jobless rate from a year ago. In April 2010, 12,757 people had jobs and 1,553 did not, for an unemployment rate of 10.9 percent. Moffat County’s unemployment rate decreased a percentage point, from 10.4 percent in March to 9.4 percent in April.
Unemployment rates, which are based on the number of people who file for unemployment benefits and who are looking for work, do not paint a full economic picture.
Yampa Valley Partners reported some positive economic information this spring. Retail sales through June are projected to be slightly better than the second quarter of 2010, and stress related to unemployment is decreasing in Northwest Colorado, according to a regional economic forecast.
“In Routt, the economic stress indicator has been trending better than last fall,” the report stated. “The forecast for the economic stress indicator is continued improvement, albeit at a very slow pace. It appears we have left the worst of 2009 behind.”
But the job market isn’t picking up yet, Bradbury reported. He said the Workforce Center consistently has seen listings of about only 10 to 20 available jobs in the county. He said many of the people who come through the center are interested in receiving school or training or in starting their own businesses.
To address those concerns, the Colorado Workforce Center is partnering with Colorado Mountain College’s Alpine Campus to offer several free training opportunities. Those include:
■ a four-part never-ever computer course June 8 and 13 at Colorado Mountain College
■ entrepreneurial courses in June for people who want to start their own businesses; no dates have been set
■ customer service workshops in June; no dates have been set
■ a course on workplace harassment and the law from 2 to 3:30 p.m. June 1 in the Citizens Room at Centennial Hall
Anyone interested in the courses can call the Workforce Center at 970-879-3075.
“All these courses are all free, and so we’re just trying to use the first part of the summer up to get people to come out and build up their skills, get information out and go from there,” Bradbury said.
Statewide, the 0.4 percentage point decrease in unemployment provided reason for limited optimism. Ellen Golombek, executive director of the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment, urged caution in analyzing the statewide figures.
“The increase in payroll jobs and decrease in the unemployment rate is encouraging news,” Golombek said in a news release. “We would like to see these trends continue for several months before reading too much into the numbers.”
Job gains for the state in March came in trade, transportation and utilities and other services; and leisure and hospitality. The largest decrease was in construction, according to state figures.