With unemployment rates in Moffat County decreasing, Colorado Workforce Center shifts focus back to normal operations | CraigDailyPress.com

With unemployment rates in Moffat County decreasing, Colorado Workforce Center shifts focus back to normal operations

Maddy Hughes / For Craig Press

Back in May, Moffat County had an unemployment rate of about ten percent of its total labor force. Roughly four months later, the rate had decreased by almost half, down to 5.5 percent. 

There is no available information about where people are finding work, but Christina Oxley, Regional Business Services Coordinator at Colorado Workforce Center in Craig, said that government and public administration, accommodation and food services, arts/ entertainment/ recreation, and healthcare and social assistance are the primary industries that employ Moffat County residents. 

“The industry analysis is kept by the Bureau of Labor Statistics and their numbers are only current through the first quarter of 2020,” Oxley said. 

She also clarified that a decrease in the unemployment rate doesn’t necessarily mean that people are being hired.

“That’s more a reflection of labor force participation,” Oxley said.

The unemployment rate divides the number of people in the labor force by the number of unemployed (in other words, it’s the percentage of the labor force who cannot find employment). The number of unemployed is found through a household survey. A person is counted if they don’t have a job, are actively looking for work, and are able to be hired.

If someone is still unemployed but no longer actively looking for a job, then they get pulled out of the labor force.

 “The change (in unemployment) could reflect both hiring and people exiting the workforce,” Oxley said. “We’re seeing people exiting the workforce for COVID related reasons—parents, women in particular, who have to homeschool kids and older workers who are exiting the workforce a little earlier because of the health risk.” 

Another way to look at unemployment is to compare and contrast the number of people collecting unemployment over the months, as opposed to the unemployment rate. \

“The number of continued claims in Moffat County for the week of September 5 is 216. There was a high of 377 for the week of April 11. It’s been fairly continuously on a downward slope since then,” Oxley said. “To compare, the weekly average in Moffat County prior to COVID was about 60 claims. We were at 107 continuing claims the week of March 7, just as COVID was kicking in before the shutdown orders. The week between March 7 and March 14 we were at 208.” 

In Moffat County in August there were 165 job postings and 355 people unemployed.

“If they want a job, there’s a job out there,” Oxley said, however noting that “That’s assuming that every one of those people has the same skillset, which they don’t.”

Oxley noted that employers are struggling to hire, despite what they think is a pretty high unemployment rate.

“The industries that were hardest hit by COVID were food services and accommodation, and retail, and those jobs haven’t totally come back. Restaurants are still only open at limited capacity,” Oxley said.

Though the future is still unpredictable, the Workforce Center is no longer assisting with unemployment claims, so they can return the focus to their usual processes, Oxley said.

“We have reset back to our normal operations. For job seekers, we can find job training programs and educational opportunities. We help people develop their resumes, their interview skills, and help them find jobs they’re interested in if they’re looking to switch careers. (We provide) pretty much anything that a person would need on a job search,” Oxley said. “We supported the department of unemployment insurance pretty heavily during COVID when the call volume was astronomical, but several weeks ago we stopped that and shifted back to what we normally do, which is help connect people with barriers to employment to jobs.”

The Workforce Center even supplies people with things they need to purchase things to get back to work, like scrubs or cosmetology kits.

If you are looking for assistance in getting back to work, contact the Workforce Center at (970) 824-3246.

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