Jobless rate up, sales tax down in Moffat

At a glance

• Moffat County unemployment is at 8.6 percent for January 2010, up from January 2009’s 6.4 percent.

• State unemployment is at 8.2 percent for January 2010, up from January 2009’s 7.3 percent.

• Craig sales tax is down 8.15 percent, or $21,352, in January 2010 from January 2009.

• Craig sales tax is over budget 2.43 percent or $5,705.61, for January.

• Moffat County sales tax is under budget 9.63 percent, or $17,500.47, in January.

Ken Christopher is out of work.

He and his wife, Shelly, are new in Craig and were looking for work Wednesday at the Colorado Workforce Center in Craig.

Ken, 46, who eventually wants to be a preacher, has been getting by during the past month by working at a local temp agency but is currently out of work.

“For the guy like me who just does labor and who doesn’t really have a trade in life, I’ll be OK because I’m not too prideful,” he said. “I’ll pick up a shovel and shovel.”

Ken and Shelly are among the 764 Moffat County residents without a job, according to the Colorado Department of Labor’s January unemployment figures.

Moffat County unemployment is at 8.6 percent, which is slightly above the Colorado unemployment average of 8.2 percent.

In January of 2009, Moffat County’s unemployment rate was 6.4 percent and Colorado’s was 7.3 percent.

Unemployment has slowly risen in Moffat County from 5.9 percent in November 2009 to 7 percent in December.

From October 2009 to January 2010, 253 more people have been counted as unemployed in Moffat County.

Although Ken doesn’t think the economy will bounce back anytime soon, he still has hope.

“I’m a Christian, so I put all my faith in God, and he provides and takes care of us,” he said. “Love, INC helped us get furniture. We’re drawing food stamps right now. If it gets really bad and we don’t have any money for rent, then I always have people in different churches that will step up and help us pay our rent.”

Along with unemployment numbers being up in Moffat County, sales tax numbers are down from 2009.

Joe Winter, a senior economist with the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment, said sales tax and unemployment numbers are economic indicators that are related to each other.

“If you don’t have a job, you are cutting back on what you are buying, and it’s that simple,” he said.

In January 2010, Craig saw an 8.15 percent, or $21,352, dip in sales tax revenue from 2009.

However, because Craig tightened its budget in 2010, it exceeded budgeted sales tax revenue projections by 2.43 percent or $5,705.61, for January.

January marks the first time Craig has been above budgeted sales tax revenue since September 2009.

Officials backed off city sales tax collection estimates by $130,000, or 4 percent, and countywide sales tax by $160,000 for the 2010 budget.

Moffat County sales tax revenue for January fell 9.63 percent, or $17,500.47, short of the 2010 budget.

Darcy Trask, Craig/Moffat Economic Development Partner­ship director, said the feeling in the Moffat County business community is uncertain.

“I make a point to ask business owners and managers whenever I see them how things are going, and right now, the answers are all over the map,” she said. “We have lots of folks that are continuing to see a decline, but we also have folks who are starting to make a turn.”

Trask remains hopeful that is a sign of good things to come.

“Whether or not that is an indication of a long climb up, we don’t know,” she said. “But we are hopeful for that.”

Winter said improvements to the economy could pick-up after the typically slow months following the holiday season but is wary of the speed in which jobs will be created.

Referring to past economic recession cycles, Winter said, “it would not surprise me that we kind of crawl out of this a little more slowly than we would like to.”

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