Job growth in Moffat County up for first time since 2007

Yampa Valley Data Partners releases first signs of job recovery

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Kate Nowak

Moffat County net job growth

Number of total jobs in July 2011: 5,115 total

Public sector jobs in July 2011: 665, up 14.5 percent over 2009

Private sector jobs in July 2011: 4,450, down 6.1 percent over 2009

For the first time since December 2007, there are more jobs in Moffat County than there are workers in the civilian population.

Yampa Valley Data Partners, formerly Yampa Valley Partners, released the news Monday in its monthly edition of “Fast Facts.” The non-profit organization evaluates community health in Moffat and Routt counties through a variety of civic, economic, environmental and social indicators.

“The unemployment rate has gone down, so that’s good,” Kate Nowak, executive director of Partners said. “But unemployment rates only look at the number of active unemployment claims divided by the civilian workforce.”

Nowak believes Partners’ system is more robust.

“What our economic stress indicator looks at is the total number of jobs in relation to the total number of people in the civilian workforce,” Nowak said. “Then we adjust for seasonality.”

In Moffat County, the civilian workforce is made up of residents ages16 to 65. Partners does not include retired persons working part-time jobs in its economic stress study.

According to first quarter data, the number of jobs and the number of available workers in Moffat County was balanced in June.

“In July, we noticed the first positive reporting since December 2007,” Nowak said. “The job market should be opening up for folks.”

But don’t think that because the job market is beginning to recover, dream jobs are just waiting to be snatched up by the public, Nowak said.

“The survey doesn’t say that the job you may want is available, but that a job is available,” Nowak said. “People sometimes get that confused.”

The study also compared the number of public and private sector jobs available today as opposed to one, three and five years ago.

Currently, public sector jobs, such as local government and public safety positions, account for 665 of the 5,115 total jobs in Moffat County, which is up 14.5 percent over 2009.

“That’s not surprising considering Moffat County and the City of Craig are some of the biggest employers in the county,” Nowak said.

Public sector jobs in 2011 are also up — 10.2 percent higher than 2007, but only 1.4 percent over 2005.

“You would think by looking at the data that public sector jobs have increased,” Nowak said. “When they are really about the same as they were four or five years ago. I think you can attribute that to the expansion and contraction of the labor market force.”

Although the overall job outlook is positive for the first time in years, Nowak said it is important to note that the private sector is not recovering as quickly as the public sector.

Currently, the private sector employs 4,450 Moffat County workers, which is down 6.1 percent over 2009.

Still, Nowak says if you look at the numbers, whenever the private sector has experienced a workforce reduction, the public sector seems to pick up the slack, and vice versa.

“I think that serves as another example of why Moffat County is so stable and has weathered the recession better than other counties around the state and around the country,” Nowak said.

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