County jobless rate up slightly

Tourism-related employment peaked in November; lag expected

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The unemployment rate in Moffat County increased from 5.7 percent to 6.1 in November during a transitional period for seasonal work.

Many summer jobs, such as construction and landscaping, ended in October, but winter tourism jobs had not yet started by November 19, when the Department of Labor and Employment published these statistics, Monty Bond of the Colorado Workforce Center said.

The workforce center is a free service provided by the state that helps businesses fill vacant positions and unemployed individuals find jobs. Bond said construction and trucking companies, a new mining company, Mining Technologies, and several oil fields near Baggs, Wyo., have recently contacted the workforce center about finding workers.

Of Moffat County's workforce of 6,612 people, 402 people were unemployed in November, the most recent month for which statistics were available. A labor force worker is defined as anyone who is eligible for work and wants to work.

"It's pretty typical," Bond said. "The picture should look better in a month."

A peak in employment should be seen at the end of November, said Sonya Guram, an economist of labor market information with the labor department. That peak is due to the many residents who work at the ski resort in Steamboat Springs, or in other tourism-related fields. Twenty percent of Moffat County's labor force commutes to Routt County for work.

"There is definitely seasonality to the workforce," Guram said.

Most winter jobs will end in April or May, and there may be another drop in employment during the transition back to summer jobs. Moffat County summer jobs will be reflected in another peak in June, Guram said.

Although much of the available work is seasonal, Guram said Moffat County's employment is not too driven by tourism. She cited trade as the highest field of employment, followed by transportation and government employment in the school district and for the county.

According to information from the labor department, the unemployment rate in November 2002 was 4.6. That's 1.5 percent lower than November 2003.

The labor department produces monthly unemployment rates for each county in the state, based on a monthly survey of households.

The statewide seasonally adjusted unemployment rate in November was 5.6 percent, an increase of .1 percent from October. Guram said Moffat County's unemployment rate is usually higher than the statewide rate, but in 2002 unemployment was lower than usual.

"Overall, things look somewhat positive with growth," Guram.

Across the state, non-agricultural employment increased by 2,800 jobs, bringing the job total to 2,166,500. That gain failed to meet seasonal expectations, the labor department reported.

Rob Gebhart can be reached at 824-7031 or by e-mail at rgebhart@craigdailypress.com.

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