Moffat County unemployment drops slightly |

Moffat County unemployment drops slightly

October unemployment rate lowest since December of last year

Brian Smith

Being a 21-year-old single mother of two without a steady source of income is a scary situation for Craig resident Stephanie Bailey.

But, that is the reality she is faced with.

About two weeks ago, Bailey lost her job. In order to pay the bills, she was forced to file for unemployment compensation and has since been looking for a job.

"I have never seen it this bad," she said while filling out paper work Monday at the Colorado Workforce Center in Craig. "It is not a time I'd ever want to lose my job.

"I remember coming in here looking for a job when I was 16, 17 and there were four pages of those things," she said glancing at job postings on the wall of the workforce center.

Recently released figures show Moffat County has an unemployment rate of less than 8 percent for the first time since December of last year.

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According to information provided by the Colorado De-

partment of Labor and Employment, Moffat County's unemployment rate was 7.8 percent in October, a decrease from previous months.

In September, unemployment in the county was down to 8.1 percent from 8.2 percent in August.

County 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, 182 fewer residents have been counted as unemployed, while 490 residents have left the work force, according to statistics.

Unemployment in Routt County rose to 9.2 percent in October from September's 8.5 percent, with 1,245 residents being counted as unemployed.

In Rio Blanco County, unemployment continues to hover at about 5.4 percent with 235 residents being counted as unemployed in October.

At the state level, Colorado's non-seasonally adjusted unemployment rate rose slightly from 8 percent in September to 8.1 percent in October. According to the department, 214,935 Coloradoans were out of work last month.

The October unemployment rate increased in 38 of Colorado's 64 counties, decreased in 14 and was unchanged in 12, according to a Department of Labor news release.

On a national level, unemployment levels remained mostly unchanged at 9.6 percent in October, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Bailey said she was unsure when, or if, the economy and job creation would improve.

"For me, it just seems that things have gotten worse," she said. "I kind of thought we were lucky living in a small town. (It felt) like it was never going to hit us, but I guess it did and it makes it worse because there are not 1,001 places that you can apply in Craig, and we are really limited here."

Regional economist Scott Ford contends although the unemployment percentage dropped in October in Moffat County, the economic stress caused by unemployment levels remained about the same.

The local economy is "simply not creating jobs," Ford said.

"In some ways … the economy has somewhat stalled," he said. "It has been stalled really since spring of this year. We were kind of going up the curve and things were improving, and then it just stalled out."

Ford said such long periods of unemployment levels have a way of rippling through economies and surfacing in things such as increasing home foreclosure numbers.

But, Ford said current unemployment levels could remain for some time to come.

"This larger number of unemployment is something that we are going to see for … several years," he said. "… If I am an employer, I am going to be very hesitant to start to rehire."

Ford said decreasing work force numbers could mean residents are moving out of the area. However, Ford said their reason for leaving the area might not be to look for a job, like it would be in the usual "ebb and flow" of a healthy economy.

Instead, Ford said in such a widespread economic downturn, residents could be forced to move in with relatives to conserve what they have left, among other factors.

"It is not much better here than it would be in Santa Fe or Albuquerque," Ford said. "As a result … are people moving out of the area? I think that is occurring, but it is not so much due to employment opportunities. It's due to the fact that they have exhausted their resources."

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