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County unemployment rate down to 6.6 percent

Staff Writer

The unemployment rate for Archuleta County dropped to 6.6 percent in October, with 6,123 people in the labor force, but only 403 of those claiming unemployment.

In September, there were 6,367 people in the county’s labor force with 459, or 6.8 percent, claiming unemployment. The total workforce dropped 244 people over the month, but the number of unemployed people was down even more, dropping by 56 people, which caused the .2 percent drop in unemployment.

Over the year, the employment situation has improved markedly. In October 2012 there were 6,174 workers in the county, but 520 of those people, or 8.4 percent, were unemployed. Last month’s rate was down 1.8 percent by comparison.

Hinsdale County had the lowest unemployment rate in the state at 3.0 percent, while Costilla had the highest at 11.3.

Looking at all of Colorado, the unemployment rate continued a steady downward trend in October, decreasing one tenth of a percentage point to 6.8 percent. This is the lowest it has been since January of 2009, when it was 6.7 percent.

The number of people participating in the labor force decreased 13,400 over the month and the number of people reporting themselves as employed decreased 7,400. The larger decline in the labor force than in total employment caused the number of unemployed to decrease 6,100 and the unemployment rate to decrease to 6.8 percent. As a point of comparison, the national unemployment rate was 7.3 percent.

Over the year, the unemployment rate declined from 7.7 percent in October 2012, while the national unemployment rate declined from 7.9 percent in the same time frame.

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.

Nonfarm payroll jobs estimates, on the other hand, 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.

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.

Nonfarm payroll jobs in the state of Colorado increased 1,500 over the month from September to October to 2,371,900, with private sector payroll jobs increasing by 2,100 and government jobs decreasing by 600.

Any impact the September floods or the October federal government shutdown may have had on household or establishment survey results is confounded by more influential trends experienced since mid-year 2013.

The largest over the month job gains were in professional and business services, education and health services, leisure and hospitality and manufacturing. The largest over the month declines were in trade, transportation and utilities, construction, and information.

Over the year, nonfarm payroll jobs increased 45,600. Private sector payroll jobs increased 38,600 and government increased 7,000. The largest private sector job gains were in professional and business services, leisure and hospitality, and education and health services. Information and financial activities declined.

Other series based on the survey of business establishments and government agencies include private sector average weekly hours, average hourly earnings and average weekly earnings. Over the year, the average workweek for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls decreased from 35.0 to 34.6 hours while the average earnings increased from $24.61 per hour to $25.72.

According to the Quarterly Business and Economic Indicators Report released last week by Colorado Secretary of State Scott Gessler, an increase in business filings should sustain near-term employment growth.

“Business filing numbers again indicate good news for our economy in the coming months,” Secretary Gessler said. “A record number of new businesses were formed during the third quarter of the year—this should mean more jobs are coming.”

Because of the increase in new business filings, Gessler predicted Colorado will set a new employment record in the last quarter of 2013 and the first quarter of 2014.

Gessler’s report found a strong correlation between new entity filings and total nonfarm employment. New entity filings increased 6.6 percent in the third quarter compared to the previous year, with a total of 20,654 filings.

At 101,471 for the quarter, existing entity renewals are also up 4.4 percent compared to the prior year. The third quarter finished with 520,312 total entities in good standing in the business registry, an increase of nearly 8 percent over the previous year.

ed.fincher@pagosasun.com

This story was posted on December 2, 2013.