Unemployment on the rise in Summit County
SUMMIT DAILY NEWS
September unemployment in Summit County rose to 8.1 percent – nearly two points higher than the same time last year.
In September of 2009, 6.3 percent of the Summit County labor force was searching for work versus 8.1 percent in September of this year. The county likely followed state and national trends of workers continuing to return to the labor force.
“The Summit County market is being affected by a normal seasonal pattern coupled with the state of the economy as a whole – not just in Colorado, but in the country,” said Colorado Workforce Center economist Joe Winter.
According to Winter, many unemployed Americans gave up looking for work during the early stages of the recession and were no longer counted in the labor force. Those same workers started looking for work again in September, but the current market is not creating enough jobs to compensate for the additional job seekers.
“It’s going to take a while to absorb people reentering the labor force, and until that time, there will be an upward trend in the unemployment rate,” Winter said. “Nationwide you have to create 150,000 to 200,000 jobs per month just to stay even with labor force changes. That hasn’t happened in two-and-a-half years.”
A weak construction industry could also have caused unemployment to rise in Summit County in September.
“It’s way worse than any unemployment figures you might see out there,” said Colorado Builders Association governmental affairs chair David Koons. “Most of the people that work in construction industry locally here work for themselves. They can’t file unemployment against themselves, so they might not be showing up in those figures. And those companies that do have employees don’t have very many at this time.”
Recent election results may have staved off additional unemployment in Summit County and the state.
“I am thankful to voters for voting down Amendments 60 and 61 and Proposition 101 while voting for 3B,” County Commissioner Karn Stiegelmeier said. “Had the votes gone the other way, we would have lost an estimated 70,000 jobs in Colorado.”
Amendments 60 and 61 and Proposition 101 would have had detrimental implications for state and local government budgets, and 3B provided Summit School District with funding through a partial mill levy extension.
Government entities also nurture employment in the private sector through contract work. By enlisting private companies to complete projects, those companies have more incentive to hire workers.
“A lot of local business relies on government services that the community wants,” said Stiegelmeier, “but it has an impact of providing jobs, as well.”
Further good news for the country and Summit County: Consumer confidence is on the rise. After declining slightly in September, the Consumer Confidence Index calculated by the Conference Board rose 1.6 points in October.
SDN reporter Drew Andersen can be reached at (970) 668-4633 or
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