Moffat County unemployment hovering at 8.7 percent

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At a glance

• Unemployment in Moffat County stayed at 8.7 percent in May and June.

• Moffat County workforce increased by 226 people, while 25 more people were counted as unemployed.

• Routt County had 9.4 percent unemployment in June, down from May’s 10.5 percent.

• Rio Blanco County unemployment rate was 6 percent in June, up from May’s 5.7 percent.

• Colorado unemployment rate up to 8.3 percent in June from May’s 7.7 percent.

• Forty-five of Colorado’s 64 counties increased in unemployment percentage from May to June.

Dustin Harrison, 22, walked into the Colorado Workforce Center’s Craig office Tuesday, removed his sunglasses and dropped his elbows on the counter.

“I need a job,” he said with a sigh to a staff member working behind the desk.

Harrison, a Craig resident, has been without a job twice this year, he said.

He said he worked for Twentymile Coal Co., until January, when he was laid off. Harrison then moved to Rock Springs, Wyo., to take a job at Bridger Coal Mine as a bolter, but was laid off in May.

Since then, Harrison has returned to Craig, started living in a friend’s basement and had to give his truck back to his bank because he couldn’t afford it, he said.

“It’s absolutely horrible,” he said of his three months looking for a job.

“Nobody is hiring and I’m not really an office guy. I’m a big, strong-backed guy looking for a construction job or something like that. It just seems there isn’t anything out there.”

Harrison said he is uncertain about his future and may have to move somewhere else to find work.

“I don’t know what I am going to do because I can’t find anything around here,” he said.

He traces the economic woes in the area back to politics.

“I think it would be better for Northwest Colorado if we got a different governor in the spot there,” he said. “We need natural gas and all the energy corporations to come back in this area, because that is the mainstay for people to stay in Northwest Colorado … jobs like that.”

According to statistics provided by the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment, unemployment in Moffat County was 8.7 percent in June, the same rate it was in May.

The state counted 757 people in the county as unemployed last month, up from 732 in May.

The number of people in the workforce in Moffat County also shifted during that time.

In June, 8,678 people were counted as being able to work, up from 8,452 in May.

The unemployment rate in Moffat County spiked at 9.4 percent in March, the highest mark the county had seen since 1993, but dropped in April to 9.1 percent.

Moffat County’s unemployment is faring better than its neighbor to the east, however.

Unemployment in Routt County in June dropped to 9.4 percent after reaching 10.5 percent in May. According to statistics, 1,335 people were counted as unemployed in Routt County last month.

Routt County’s workforce also grew from May to June. The state estimated 14,222 people were able to work in Routt County in June, up from May’s 13,424 people.

Rio Blanco County’s unemployment rose, however, from May to June.

According to statistics, the unemployment rate in Rio Blanco County last month was 6 percent with 273 people counted as unemployed.

In May, Rio Blanco’s unemployment rate was 5.7 percent with 246 people being counted as unemployed.

At the state level, Colorado’s unemployment rose from 7.7 percent in May to 8.3 percent in June.

According to a news release from the Department of Labor and Employment, the unemployment rate increased from May to June in 45 of Colorado’s 64 counties. The unemployment rate declined in 17 counties and was unchanged in two counties.

Scott Ford, director of the Routt County Economic Development Cooperative, said the hovering of Moffat County’s unemployment and the drop in Routt County are “nothing to get excited about.”

“This is not bad, this is just the reality of where we live, that we live in the tyranny of small numbers,” Ford said. “A small change of 100 or so, either in the numerator or the denominator, can cause that percentage number to swing pretty good.”

Ford said the economic stress caused by things like an unbalanced amount of jobs and workforce levels is getting better in Moffat County and staying stagnant in Routt County.

“You’re on the right track,” he said of Moffat County. “Are they above the water yet? No, but they are getting better.”

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