Colo. jobless rate dips to 6.9 percent in October

AP News
Posted: Nov 20, 2009 4:20 PM

A shrinking labor force and about 1,000 new jobs have helped put Colorado's latest seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for October at 6.9 percent, a slight decrease from the previous month, the state Department of Labor and Employment said Friday.

"The main reason our unemployment has been falling is because of people dropping out of the labor force," said Alexandra Hall, the chief economist for the Department of Labor and Employment.

Colorado's labor force _ the number of people with jobs or looking for work _ has declined by more than 81,000 since last October, when it was at about 2.7 million, according to state employment figures.

The shrinking labor force may be attributed to people who are stopping their job search because they're discouraged, are going back to school, or in the case of double-income households, are staying at home to save on day care, Hall said.

October's unemployment rate is a slight decline from September, when the rate was at 7 percent. It was 7.3 percent in August. Colorado's unemployment rate was as high as 7.8 percent in July, and at 5.3 percent last October.

The national unemployment rate is 10.2 percent.

Friday's figures show that about 184,300 residents are looking for work. At the same time, state officials say that some of the Colorado's biggest industries added jobs in October. Government added 7,300 more and 1,900 were added in education and health services.

Adjusted for seasonality, though, the number of jobs added in the last month throughout the state was about 1,000, Hall said. Most of those jobs were in professional and business services, which could be legal services and engineering and accounting firms, and leisure and hospitality.

Hall said although consumer confidence is continuing to increase, it may still be several months before the labor market recovers from the recession.

"I think there's still a lot of uncertainty about what kind of footing we are in the economy when it comes to employment," Hall said.

A drop in oil prices and investment in the oil and gas industry has affected the unemployment rate in counties in the state's Western Slope, as well as in northern and southern Colorado. Counties along the Front Range have been affected by declines in the construction sector. The Eastern Plains, where the majority of counties have agriculturally based economies, have not been as affected by unemployment as the rest of the state.