Unemployment spikes to 16 percent in county

By John Finefrock
Staff Writer

Archuleta County’s unemployment rate spiked to 16 percent in April from 6.9 percent in March, according to a press release from the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment (CDLE).

In April, Archuleta County had 6,394 people in the labor force and 1,020, or 16 percent, claiming unemployment.

Archuleta County’s unemployment rate in April 2019 was 3.3 percent.

In March, there were 6,451 people in the labor force and 445, or 6.9 percent, who claimed unemployment.

The total workforce decreased by 57 people over the course of the month, while the number of unemployed people increased by 575.

Looking at the April employment situation for the rest of the state, Gilpin County had the highest unemployment rate in April at 23.2 percent, while Kiowa County had the lowest rate at 2.6 percent.

The state of Colorado’s unemployment rate in April was 11.3 percent, the highest since comparable records have been kept since 1976.

“… this release provides an estimate of Colorado’s employment situation during the first full month of efforts to contain COVID-19 within the state and associated impacts,” the press release states.

The press release outlines how all private-sector job categories in the state saw declines in the number of jobs over the month, which include:

• Leisure and hospitality lost 148,100 jobs.

• Education and health services lost 43,800.

• Trade, transportation and utilities lost 41,800.

• Professional and business services lost 28,500.

• Other services lost 19,800.

• Construction lost 12,700.

• Manufacturing lost 10,300.

• Financial activities lost 5,500.

• Mining and logging lost 1,000.

There were no significant over-the-month private sector job gains in April.

Statewide, the number of people actively participating in the labor force in Colorado decreased 67,400 over the month to 3,069,200 and the number of people reporting themselves as employed decreased 251,200 to 2,721,300.

The national unemployment rate increased 10.3 percent in April to 14.7 percent. 

The unemployment rate, 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.

However, nonfarm 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.

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 work site and the other measuring persons employed and unemployed by household, estimates based on these surveys may provide seemingly conflicting results.

From March to April, nonfarm payroll jobs in Colorado decreased by 323,500 for a total of 2,473,300, with private-sector jobs decreasing by 311,400 and government jobs decreasing by 12,100.

Over the year, total employment in Colorado decreased by 315,100 and the number of unemployed increased by 257,000.

Other data that is gathered by the survey of business establishments includes private-sector average weekly hours, average hourly earnings and average weekly earnings. 

Over the year, the average workweek for all employees in private nonfarm payroll jobs increased from 32.7 to 32.8 hours.

Average hourly earnings increased from $30.35 to $31.98 during the same time period.

Refusal to work

The CDLE received about 1,000 requests from workers who were invited back to work, but asked to continue to receive unemployment benefits due to concerns about COVID-19 and/or finding child care.

The CDLE reported that 15 percent of workers who requested continued benefits while refusing to work were denied further unemployment benefits.

“The general reasons given are vulnerable population, caring for a vulnerable population and child care. The ones denied have mostly been because in further fact finding we determine they do not meet those criteria for eligibility,” wrote Cher Haavind, deputy executive director and chief communications officer for the CDLE, in an email to The SUN.



This story was posted on May 28, 2020.