County’s unemployment rate down slightly in March

Staff Writer

With town manager David Mitchem reporting last week that Wal-Mart still hasn’t pulled a building permit for its store, the unemployment rate for March in Archuleta County still fell by one-tenth of a percentage point over the month.

There were more people in the county holding jobs, according to a report issued last month by the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment — 5,600 in March compared to 5,501 in February. Overall, there were 101 new workers into the county’s job market, including two more people claiming unemployment, which pushed the unemployment rate down from 8.4 percent in February to 8.3 in March.

In addition, the picture is quite a bit better than last year, when the March 2013 unemployment rate was 9.5 percent and there were only 5,322 people employed in the county with 561 who claimed unemployment.

Looking at the employment situation for the rest of the state, Costilla County had the highest unemployment rate for the month with 13.3 percent, while Baca County had the lowest with 3 percent.

Though the local unemployment rate fell slightly, the state’s unemployment rate increased one-tenth of a point to 6.2 percent. The number of people participating in the labor force increased 19,700 over the month and the number of people reporting themselves as employed increased 17,300. The larger increase in the labor force than in total employment caused the number of unemployed to increase 2,400 and increased the unemployment rate to 6.2 percent.

Over the year, the unemployment rate declined eight-tenths of one percentage point from 7 percent in March 2013. The number of Coloradans participating in the labor force increased 34,600, total employment increased 55,600 and the number of unemployed decreased 20,900.

By comparison, the national unemployment rate decreased from 7.5 percent in March 2013 to 6.7 percent in March 2014 and remained unchanged at 6.2 percent over the month from February to March.

Colorado’s total employment reached a series peak of 2,611,300 in March 2008, the number of unemployed reached a series peak of 246,700 in October 2010, and the unemployment rate peaked at 9.1 percent in October 2010 and has declined almost without interruption since.

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 that 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 3,300 nonfarm payroll jobs from February to March for a total of 2,423,300 jobs, the CDLE report continued. Private sector payroll jobs increased 2,700 and government jobs increased 600.

The largest over-the-month private sector job gains were in trade, transportation and utilities, construction and other services. Professional and business services lost jobs.

Over the year, nonfarm payroll jobs increased 61,000 with an increase of 55,800 in the private sector and an increase of 5,200 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 declines.

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 increased from 34.7 to 34.8 hours and average hourly earnings increased from $25.26 to $26.37.