The holidays have been rough for Craig resident Larry Hubbard the last several years.
The 49-year-old resident has been out of work since losing his license to drive trucks a few years ago.
“If it wasn’t for friends and family and stuff, I might be homeless,” he said Monday while looking at job postings at the Colorado Workforce Center in Craig.
Hubbard has been receiving food stamps for a while now, but his unemployment compensation ran out, he said.
However, he said he knows he should be grateful for the help he has received in the current economic slump.
“If it wasn’t for food stamps, I’d be sunk, as far as food goes,” he said. “They are really life savers and the food bank and other programs around here help a lot, too.”
Hubbard is one of 736 Moffat County residents counted by the state as unemployed in November.
Unemployment in Moffat County jumped to 8.7 percent in November after reaching a low not seen for about a year, according to recently released figures.
According to information provided by the Colorado Depart-
ment of Labor and Employment, the county’s unemployment rate was 7.8 percent in October.
In September, unemployment in Moffat County was down to 8.1 percent from 8.2 percent in August.
Unemployment figures have shown a slight downward trend since peaking in March at 9.4 percent, the highest mark the county had seen since 1993.
Since March, 104 fewer residents have been counted as unemployed, while 442 residents have left the work force, according to statistics.
Unemployment in Routt County increased to 9.8 percent in November from October’s 9.3 percent, with 1,326 residents being counted as unemployed.
In Rio Blanco County, unemployment increased slightly from 5.5 percent in October to 6 percent in November, with 256 residents being counted as unemployed last month.
At the state level, Colorado’s non-seasonally adjusted unemployment rate rose from 8.1 percent in October to 8.7 percent last month. According to the department, 231,594 Coloradoans were out of work last month.
The November unemployment rate increased in 62 of Colorado’s 64 counties and decreased in two counties, according to a Department of Labor news release.
On a national level, unemployment levels increased to 9.8 percent in November, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Regional economist Scott Ford isn’t taking rising unemployment rates across the state and the stress it causes lightly.
“This is a significantly serious economic time,” he said. “I never want to minimize it and there are always people behind these numbers.
“A negative number means somebody got bruised.”
Ford contends the balance existing between the number of jobs and the size of the area’s workforce continues to be out of balance.
“The teeter-totter is tilted to the fact that there is more workforce than there are jobs,” he said. “What that means is that the stress caused in the county as a result of unemployment actually has increased.”
Ford said that economic stress is the worst the area has seen in about 20 years.
“This sucks — it’s the worst,” he said. “The longer this goes, the more stress results because people do not have money to spend, sometimes make their mortgages, rents, that kind of stuff.”
Ford said he was optimistic in the spring that things looked like they were improving, but since then, the economy has stalled and is unfortunately getting worse.
Simply put, the economy is not creating jobs, Ford said.
“You can’t follow the work because it is not happening anywhere,” he said. “What will happen over time is the stress will begin to lessen because people will migrate out of the area.
“But, because there are not a lot of places people can go to find work, that eventual migration may be due more to attrition than to find a new job.
“What you are doing … is moving back into your parents’ basement.”
Hubbard shared the sentiment, adding he is looking for most any work that will help him keep bills paid.
“I do OK,” he said with a sigh. “I don’t have a lot of bills … I’ll scrap up enough money month to month to get that covered and not much more.”
But, Hubbard said he doesn’t see the economy improving any time soon.
“There just hasn’t been a whole lot out there lately,” he said. “And up here, there is just not a whole lot going on right now, unless you are a sheepherder.”
Ford agreed with Hubbard about the timeframe for economic recovery.
“There is probably no quick fix,” he said. “It is like when you have got the flu and your doctor tells you it is going take you two weeks before you feel better.”