head: County’s jobless rate better than state’s | SummitDaily.com

head: County’s jobless rate better than state’s

Jane Reuter

SUMMIT COUNTY – If you’re looking for a job, your chances of finding one are better in Summit County than in most parts of the state.

The county’s unemployment rate for February – the most recently recorded month – stood at 3.3 percent; the state’s at 5.8 percent, according to the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment.

Nevertheless, the 3.3 percent unemployment rate represents an increase for the county.

Statistics from the Colorado Workforce Center show Summit County’s unemployment rate was 2.7 percent in 2001, and still lower – at 2 percent even – in 2000.

The higher unemployment rate is reflected in the Summit Daily News “help wanted” classifieds, which are down 38 percent this March from March 2001.

The slight increase this season is good news for employers, who say they’re seeing a higher caliber of employee.

“We’ve seen an increase in the number of applicants per position,” said Scott Vargo, human resources director for Summit County Government. “In my conversations with other department heads, we’ve seen a better group of applicants. There’s definitely more competition for (the applicants).”

Connie Williams, human resources administrator for the town of Silverthorne, said she thinks some people are shying away from seasonal jobs.

“I think people are looking for more stable positions and the towns can provide that,” she said. “We’ve received more applications for jobs. It has been less difficult.”

But jobs that require special skills still pose problems.

“We still continue to have some problems filling some jobs, like some of our aquatics positions in the pool area,” Williams said. “We require certifications and that’s where we seem to have some issues.”

But even those seasonal jobs were taken, said Breckenridge Ski Resort spokeswoman Amanda McNally.

“We’ve had a really positive year in filling job vacancies, and we’ve maintained a near-full job occupancy throughout the season,” she said.

Sonya Guram, an economist with the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment, speculates Summit County’s tourist economy keeps its employment statistics elevated. The largest number of people statewide are employed in the service and retail businesses, which pervade the county.

This most recent survey by the department of labor was broken up into sections of the state. A survey of employers in Clear Creek, Eagle, Garfield, Gilpin, Grand, Jackson, Lake, Moffat, Pitkin, Rio Blanco, Routt and Summit counties showed unemployment at 4.2 percent – still significantly lower than the state average. Only 13 percent of the employers surveyed in those counties reported job vacancies, the survey shows.

Jane Reuter can be reached at 668-3998, ext. 229, or by e-mail at jreuter@summitdaily.com

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