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County’s unemployment rate higher in January

Staff Writer

With construction workers busy placing the roof on the new Tractor Supply Company store this week, and still no official word from Wal-Mart about when groundbreaking will occur for its store, the unemployment rate for January in Archuleta County rose by an entire percentage point over the month.

The good news is there were more people in the county holding jobs, according to a report issued last week by the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment — 5,622 in January compared to 5,441 in December. However, there was also an influx of 262 new workers into the county’s job market, including 81 more people claiming unemployment, which pushed the unemployment rate from 7.2 percent in December to 8.2 in January.

Nevertheless, the picture is still quite cheery compared to last year, when the January 2013 unemployment rate was 10.1 percent and there were only 5,386 people employed in the county compared to 605 who claimed unemployment.

At Tuesday night’s meeting of the Pagosa Springs Planning Commission, town planner James Dickhoff began his report by saying, “I will start with Wal-Mart since you asked. We do know that they’re out to bid, currently, with their contractors.”

Dickhoff went on to explain that a number of businesses throughout town have reported receiving inquiries from contractors concerning the prices of various building materials as they prepare bids for the Wal-Mart project.

“We know that it is currently out to bid for contractors,” Dickhoff concluded. “I don’t know where they are in that process — if they have selected their general and are looking at subs, I’m not sure about that. That’s really all I know.”

In addition, Dickhoff confirmed to SUN staff earlier that day Wal-Mart still needs to pay impact fees, submit a final developer improvement agreement for Alpha Drive and turn over a surety bond for said roadwork before being allowed to pull a building permit.

Town manager David Mitchem had nothing further to add concerning Wal-Mart after Tuesday night’s Planning Commission meeting.

Looking at the employment situation for the rest of the state, Costilla County had the highest unemployment rate in January with 14 percent, while Baca and Yuma Counties tied for the lowest with 3.3 percent.

Overall, the state’s unemployment rate decreased one-tenth of a point to 6.1 percent. The number of people actively participating in the labor force increased 5,900 to 2,754,600 and total employment increased 8,000 to 2,586,100, causing the number of unemployed to decline 2,000.

Over the year, the unemployment rate is down one and one-tenth of a percentage point from 7.2 percent in January 2013. The number of Coloradans participating in the labor force decreased 2,000, total employment increased 28,300, and the number of unemployed decreased 30,300.

By comparison, the national unemployment rate declined from 7.9 to 6.6 percent from January 2013 to January 2014 and decreased one-tenth of one percentage point over the month from December to January.

Total employment, which reached a series peak of 2,611,300 in March 2008, climbed to an annual peak of 2,578,100 in December 2013. Total employment increased 8,000 from December to January to 2,586,100, which is 25,200 below the series peak.

The number of unemployed Coloradans reached a series peak of 246,700 in October 2010. The number of unemployed has declined steadily over 2013 to reach 170,600 in December 2013. In January, the number of unemployed declined further by 2,000 to 168,500 (The numbers do not add due to rounding.) The last time the number of unemployed was at this level or lower was December 2008, when there were an estimated 167,500 unemployed.

The Colorado unemployment rate peaked at 9.1 percent in October 2010 and has declined almost without interruption since. The last time the unemployment rate was as low as 6.1 percent was December 2008. The 2013 annual average Colorado unemployment rate remains unchanged by the annual revision process and is 6.8 percent.

Colorado labor force participation reached a series peak of 74.4 percent in July 1998.

Though labor force participation has alternately declined and increased as work attitudes have been affected by the business cycle, labor force participation is expected to continue to decline with the rate of decline accelerating as baby boomers continue to age out of the workforce.

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 persons employed and unemployed by household, estimates based on these surveys may provide seemingly conflicting results.

Employers in Colorado added 7,300 nonfarm payroll jobs from December to January for a total of 2,412,200 jobs, the CDLE report continued. Private sector payroll jobs increased 7,600 and government decreased 300.

The largest over-the-month private sector job gains were in leisure and hospitality, construction, and education and health services. Other services declined by 1,100 jobs.

Over the year, nonfarm payroll jobs increased 63,200 with an increase of 59,400 in the private sector and an increase of 3,800 in government.

The largest private sector job gains were in professional and business services, leisure and hospitality, and education and health services. There were no significant over-the-year losses.

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 34.3 to 34.2 hours and average hourly earnings increased from $25.11 to $26.11.

In 2013, the Colorado labor force peaked at 2,758,400 in April, which is also a series peak, and declined steadily through December to 2,749,600, down 8,800. The labor force increased in January by 5,900, returning to within 2,900 of the 2013 peak.

Revised figures show Colorado lost 151,400 payroll jobs from a peak of 2,362,700 reached May 2008 to a trough of 2,211,300 reached January 2010. Revisions also indicate full recovery occurred in April 2013, when Colorado total nonfarm payroll jobs exceeded the May 2008 peak and reached a level of 2,367,300.

Another milestone occurred when Colorado payroll jobs exceeded 2.4 million in October 2013, reaching 2,400,900, up from 2,397,100 in September 2013.

The annual growth rate of Colorado nonfarm payroll jobs was 3 percent in 2013 revised up from 2.4 percent. The U.S. annual payroll jobs growth rate in 2013 was 1.7 percent.

ed.fincher@pagosasun.com

This story was posted on March 27, 2014.