Routt County unemployment rate rises in March | SteamboatToday.com

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Routt County unemployment rate rises in March

Figure was 7.6 percent in March, compared with 7 percent in February

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To get help filing unemployment benefits or finding a job, visit the Steamboat Springs branch of the Colorado Workforce Center, 425 Anglers Drive. Call 970-879-3075.

— Routt County unemployment increased from 7 percent in February to 7.6 percent in March, according to figures released Friday by the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment.

That number represents 86 more people without jobs, an increase from 1,108 people in February to 1,194 people in March. Routt's unemployment rate in March 2009 was 6.2 percent. The figures are not adjusted for typical seasonal changes in employment.

The labor force also shrunk from February to March, dropping from 15,861 to 15,617 as the ski season wound down.

"I think that's something to be expected," said Brian Bradbury, an employment specialist with the Steamboat Springs branch of the Color­ado Workforce Center. "The end-of-season layoffs, there's probably not a lot of surprises there."

He said the Workforce Center still was seeing a steady flow of questions about unemployment. The federal government has passed jobs-related legislation — President Barack Obama signed an extension of jobless benefits Thursday — but Bradbury said it would take a while for federal benefits to trickle down to Colorado and Routt County.

He urged people who are unemployed to keep in touch with the Workforce Center.

The number of jobs in Routt County has decreased year over year. In March 2009, 15,212 people were working. Last month, 14,423 people were working. That's a decrease of 789 jobs, or 5 percent.

In Moffat County, unemployment increased from 9 percent in February to 9.4 percent in March, an increase from 807 people to 841 people. The rate in Moffat was 7.3 percent in March 2009.

Statewide, the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate increased 0.2 percentage points to 7.9 percent in March, according to Department of Labor and Employment figures.

"While results for March are mixed, the Colorado job market continues to stabilize," department Director Donald Mares said in a news release. "Improving conditions are encouraging Coloradans to return to the labor force, contributing to the increase in the unemployment rate."

Only people actively seeking work are counted in the unemployment figures.

The government sector added 5,300 jobs in March, compared with March 2009, which the state attributes to hiring for the 2010 Census and education. Jobs also increased 2,400 in education and health services, according to the state news release.

Jobs decreased year over year in construction, which saw the largest loss at 28,600 positions; trade, transportation and utilities; manufacturing; professional and business services; financial activities; leisure and hospitality; mining and logging; information; and other services.

The jobless rate increased in 39 of Colorado's 64 counties, decreased in 19 and remained steady in six, according to the release. Cheyenne County had the lowest rate, 3.2 percent, and Dolores County had the highest, 19.9 percent.

Cheyenne County is in eastern Colorado, bordering Kansas, and Dolores is in southwestern Colorado, bordering Utah.

Nationally, unemployment was at 9.7 percent in March.