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Local unemployment figure drops .4 percent in September

The labor force in Archuleta County totaled 6,571 people for September 2012, with 6,055 employed and 516 unemployed, for an unemployment rate of 7.9 percent, according to a report issued last week by the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment.

This was a one-month drop of .4 percent compared to August, when there were 6,529 people in the labor force, with 5,989 employed and 540 unemployed, for a rate of 8.3 percent.

However, over the year, the unemployment rate increased slightly. In September 2011, Archuleta County had a total labor force of 6,371 people and, of those 5,879 were employed, while 492 were unemployed, giving a rate of 7.7 percent.

The unemployment rate, which compares the number of people with jobs to the number of people on unemployment, is different from the “not employed rate,” which also includes those who are 18 years or older and have never had a job, as well as those who have been without a job for so long that they no longer qualify for unemployment. The latter rate was recently reported by the director of the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment to be higher than 19 percent for Archuleta County.

According to the Colorado Labor Market Information Gateway, for the first quarter of 2012 (January, February, and March), the accommodations and food services sector had 51 establishments in Archuleta County that employed 568 people with an average weekly wage of $291. The retail trade sector had 81 stores that employed 524 people with an average weekly wage of $516. These two industries employed the most people in the county.

The business management sector had seven businesses that employed 10 people with an average weekly wage of $6,762. The utilities sector had five companies that employed 59 people with an average weekly wage of $1,116. The arts, entertainment and recreation sector had 13 establishments that employed 27 people with an average weekly wage of $1,088. The finance and insurance sector had 23 businesses that employed 89 people with an average weekly wage of $1,074. And the real estate sector had 34 companies that employed 166 people with an average weekly wage of $1,036. These five industries had the highest average wage per employee.

The manufacturing sector had 11 companies that employed 67 people with an average weekly wage of $380. The administrative and waste management sector had 24 companies that employed 83 people with an average weekly wage of $392. And the health care and social assistance sector had 29 companies that employed 233 people with an average weekly wage of $472. Other than the accommodations and food services sector, which was not only the largest employer, but also the one that paid the least, these three industries had the lowest average wage per employee.

The agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting sector had five businesses that employed six people with an average weekly wage of $808. The mining sector had six operations that employed 28 people with an average weekly wage of $574. The transportation and warehousing sector had nine businesses that employed 27 people with an average weekly wage of $895. And the information sector had nine companies that employed 67 people with an average weekly wage of $872. These were the smallest industries in the county, other than the educational services sector, where no numbers were reported.

The remaining industries include construction, which had 79 companies that employed 190 people with an average weekly wage of $630. The professional, scientific and technical services sector had 54 businesses that employed 122 people with an average weekly wage of $882. The public administration sector had 15 companies that employed 384 people with an average weekly wage of $816. Finally, the wholesale trade sector had 18 establishments that employed 44 people with an average weekly wage of $766.

The unemployment rate for Archuleta County remained above the rate for Colorado, where 2,542,800 people were employed and 203,200 (or 7.4 percent) were unemployed. In August 2012, it was 7.8 percent and in September 2011, it was 7.9 percent. None of the numbers above, either for the state or the county, have been adjusted for seasonality.

The rate for Colorado was still slightly better than the national unemployment rate, which declined from 9.0 percent in September 2011, to 7.8 percent in September 2012.

In Colorado, the unemployment rate, labor force, labor force participation, total employment and the number of unemployed are based on a survey of households. The total employment estimate derived from this survey is intended to measure the number of people employed.

On the other hand, non-farm payroll jobs estimates are based on a survey of business establishments and government agencies, and are intended to measure the number of jobs, not the number of people employed. Other series based on this survey include private sector average weekly hours, average hourly earnings and average weekly earnings.

The business establishment survey covers about seven times the number of households surveyed and is therefore considered a more reliable indicator of economic conditions. Because the estimates are based on two separate surveys, one measuring jobs by worksite and the other measuring employment and unemployment by household, estimates based on these surveys may provide seemingly conflicting results.

For the state of Colorado, non-farm payroll jobs increased 7,000 from August to September to 2,300,200 jobs, according to the survey of business establishments. Private sector payroll jobs increased 4,400 and government increased 2,600. The over-the-month increase in payroll jobs was driven in large part by greater-than-expected seasonal gains in private and public sector educational services.

Over the year, non-farm payroll jobs increased 37,300. Private sector payroll jobs increased 34,400 and government increased 2,900. The largest private sector job gains were in professional and business services, construction, and education and health services. The only sector that declined over the year was information.

Over the year, the average workweek for all employees on private, non-farm payrolls increased from 34.6 to 35.5 hours and average hourly earnings increased from $23.87 to $24.88. This means the average weekly wage in Colorado increased from $825.90 to $883.24. These numbers can be compared to the figures given above for each industry average in Archuleta County.

ed.fincher@pagosasun.com

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