Colorado’s unemployment rate (not seasonally adjusted) increased six-tenths of one percentage point from 6.7 to 7.3 percent in December, according to new data released today by the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment. Nationally, the unemployment rate remained at 10 percent for the second month, according to the Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). December’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate in Colorado was 7.5 percent.
Year over year, the December rate increased in Colorado from 6.0 to 7.3, and the national rate increased from 7.4 percent to 10.0 percent.
Forty-three states and the District of Columbia reported increases in unemployment from November to December.
According to the BLS, The Western region of the United States showed the largest overall unemployment rate of any region at 10.7 percent. The Northeast showed the lowest rate at 9.3 percent.
Among metropolitan areas of Colorado, Grand Junction showed the highest unemployment rate at 9.0 percent while Fort Collins’ rate was 6.1 percent. Metro Denver’s unemployment rate was 7.4 percent.
Western Colorado has been heavily impacted by a slowing economy due to significant declines in oil and gas extraction, as is compounded by relatively high unemployment rates also found in Delta and Montrose.
Areas with highly educated populations such as Fort Collins and Boulder fared better with unemployment rates of 6.1 and 5.7 respectively. Nevertheless, the number of people out of work was also up from November to December in Boulder and Fort Collins, and rates were also up year over year.
“In addition to anticipated weakness in retail trade, employment in December was affected by a particularly severe cold snap,” said Donald J. Mares, Executive Director of the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment.
December is typically a month of rising unemployment in those counties not home to major winter recreation activities. The unemployment rate (not seasonally adjusted) increased in 55 of Colorado’s 64 counties, declined in seven and remained unchanged in two. The lowest rate was 2.8 percent in Cheyenne County and the highest was 17.0 percent in Dolores County. In December 2008, the unemployment rate increased in 46 counties, declined in 15 and was unchanged in three. Last year, the lowest rate was 2.3 percent in Yuma County and the highest was 10.3 percent in Dolores County.
In mid-2009, the unemployment rate had been falling in Colorado, but this was due only to drops in the total labor force that were larger than drops in total employment. Since December of 2008, the labor force has fallen about 90,000 from 2,742,000 to 2,649,000. Overall, however, total employment during the same period has fallen by more than 100,000 from 2,567,000 to 2,455,000. Much of the fall in the labor force is due to declines in labor force participation from older workers who have determined that early retirement is the only viable option, while many workers have simply dropped out of the labor force and are now classified as “discouraged workers” and not as job seekers.