Eagle County unemployment rate increases in February | SummitDaily.com
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Eagle County unemployment rate increases in February

Randy Wyrick
vail daily

EAGLE COUNTY – Eagle County’s unemployment jumped again, hitting 9.2 percent, according to a report released Friday by the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment.

The statewide unadjusted unemployment rate is 9.7 percent.

The Eagle Co. unemployment rate, 9.2 percent in February, is more than double pre-recession numbers, up from 3.1 in February 2008. The Eagle Co. unemployment rate is up from 8.7 percent a year ago.

“This has been the biggest downturn of my life and I’m old. I have wooden skis that I bought when they were new,” said Joe Winter, a senior economist with the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment. “I have not seen a huge departure from when we started hitting the bottom of the trough in 2010.”

“Money is the fuel and oil for the economy. If you disrupt the money supply the economy will lock up, and that’s what happened,” Winter said.

The labor market includes Eagle and Lake counties, Winter said, because Lake County is a bedroom community for both Summit and Eagle counties. The Census Bureau calls it the Edwards micropolitan area.

“The state’s economy became weaker, and the Eagle and Lake County labor market is feeling its share of that effect,” Winter said.

With the ski season winding down, people are becoming more serious about finding jobs and finishing school or training.

“You have more people returning to the workforce than there are jobs to absorb them. By definition that makes you unemployed,” Winter said.

In a seasonal economy like Eagle County’s, you account for predictable fluctuations, like school years and ski resorts opening and closing, Winter said.

“Every November we have a big thing that opens up in Vail. It goes from 300 employees to 3,000 in about a month. There might be some snow, or lack of snow, and that might shift the hiring for a week or two, but it happens pretty much the same time every year,” Winter said. “If we were to seasonally adjust Eagle County, we would smooth that out. And we have ski resorts all over the state, so it happens across Colorado.”

When school lets out in the spring, the market is flooded with students looking for part-time work. So every summer you get an uptick in the unemployment rate.

They take those regular seasonal occurrences, the ones you can mathematically account for, and adjust the unemployment rate to reflect them.

That’s what seasonally adjusted means.

‘When you compensate for those, you get a clearer picture of what’s happening to the economy underneath,” Winter said.

Colorado’s unadjusted rate of 9.7 percent, 9.3 percent seasonally adjusted, is the highest since the series of statistics began since 1976, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Nationwide, 22 states posted jobless rates significantly lower than the U.S. figure of 8.9 percent, 10 states recorded measurably higher rates, and 18 states and the District of Columbia had rates that were not appreciably different from that of the nation.

Nevada has the highest unemployment rate among the states, 13.6 percent in February. The states with the next highest rates were:

• California, 12.2 percent.

• Florida, 11.5 percent.

• Rhode Island, 11.2 percent.

North Dakota has the nation’s lowest jobless rate, 3.7 percent, followed by Nebraska and South Dakota, 4.3 and 4.8 percent, respectively.


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