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Unemployment rate dips

The unemployment situation in the county continues to improve, with the rate dropping to 8.1 percent in September from 8.7 percent in August, a Colorado Department of Labor and Employment (CDLE) report indicated on Monday.

September’s numbers also suggested a trend showing improvement over last year’s unemployment rate, with the past three months outperforming the same months in 2010.

The unemployment rate for September of last year was 8.8 percent.

That is especially good news since 2011 started off trending to be worse than 2010 — a year that had the worst average unemployment in 24 years. Although 2011 is still on pace to be worse than last year as far as unemployment, the overall yearly average will be skewed due to high unemployment numbers during the first half of this year, especially during the first quarter.

However, since July, unemployment has turned around, performing better than the third quarter of last year by half a percentage point.

The state of Colorado also showed improvement in unemployment numbers. After locking in at 8.5 percent during the previous three months, the state’s unemployment rate dropped to 7.9 percent in September, the CDLE said Monday.

The state and county are doing substantially better than the nation as far the employment situation, which has stalled at 9.1 percent. Hoping to address the country’s unemployment, President Obama announced on Monday that he would bypass congress approval to pass, by executive order, portions of an almost $500 billion jobs proposal.

The president’s $447 billion package reduces payroll taxes that employees and small businesses pay, giving small businesses a tax break for hiring new workers. The proposal also allocates $140 billion for construction projects such as repairing roads and bridges, as well as modernizing schools.

Costs for most of the plan — about $400 billion over 10 years — would be offset by new limits on tax deductions for charitable contributions and other expenditures that are available to individuals making more than $200,000 a year and families making more than $250,000 a year. The rest would come from new limits on deductions for owners of corporate jets, hedge funds and oil and gas companies.

Last week, Senate majority leader Harry Reid revised the president’s plan by proposing a 7-percent “Millionaire’s Surtax” increase on income taxes for Americans making $1 million or more a year, while dumping President Obama’s previously proposed tax increases, following a rejection earlier this month by Senate Republicans (and some Democrats) of the president’s proposal.

Although the county has appeared to improve its jobs situation with minimal federal help, it could be argued that a reduction in the area’s Civilian Labor Force (CLF) — the numbers of employed and unemployed — has led to a decrease in the unemployment rate.

The CLF decreased by 3.5 percent from September of last year and 4.6 percent from August of this year.

However, a decrease in the county’s CLF does not necessarily indicate a drop in local area population; workers who land jobs in surrounding counties or states would be dropped from CLF population counts.

Furthermore, CLF numbers show fluctuations from month to month, and all indications suggest that the number of workers in Archuleta County available for employment remains relatively unchanged from last year.

Given the relative stability of CLF numbers, along with a consistent trend in improving unemployment numbers during the third quarter of this year, suggests that the local economy has begun a slow, but steady, rebound from harder times characterizing the last two years.

jim@pagosasun.com

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