State, Pitco jobless rates dip | AspenTimes.com

State, Pitco jobless rates dip

The Associated Press

DENVER ” Colorado ended the year with its lowest monthly unemployment rate in nearly 5 1/2 years after seasonal hiring for the ski and holiday shopping seasons boosted the December work force by almost 8,000 workers.

Pitkin County, including Aspen and Snowmass Village, had the lowest jobless rate in the state in December with 2.4 percent, according to the statewide report. The county figures are not adjusted for seasonal labor changes.

Garfield County’s December unemployment stood at 2.5 percent and Eagle County’s was 2.9 percent. Glenwood Springs is located in Garfield County, while Eagle includes Vail and Beaver Creek, as well as a sliver of the Roaring Fork Valley.

Colorado’s jobless rate dipped one-tenth of a percentage point to 4 percent last month, down from 4.8 percent in December 2005, state labor economists said Tuesday. For the year, the rate ranged between 4 percent and 4.8 percent, with a 2.1 percent increase in the work force or about 46,500 jobs.

The result was in line with expectations of most economists who have forecast slower growth for 2007. “The job growth is OK, but not fantastic,” University of Colorado economist Richard Wobbekind said.

“This is actually right on the pace of what we forecast for the year ahead,” he said, noting that Colorado’s performance will depend largely on whether the national economy continues to grow. He has forecast state job growth of 1.9 percent to 2 percent for 2007.

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In December, there were about 2.3 million people in the nonagricultural work force, up 7,800 from November, according to the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment’s seasonally adjusted figures. All but two industry sectors added jobs.

December typically has the highest employment based on job counts as the ski season gets in full swing and retail stores add seasonal workers, state labor economist Joe Winter said. The lowest employment figures are recorded in January and February when the seasonal jobs begin to end.

“I imagine we’re going to have a pretty standard drop in January,” Winter said.

Large gains were posted in December in leisure and hospitality, which encompasses the ski resorts, and in trade, transportation and utilities, which is home to the retail trades sector, the department reported.

Losses were posted in information, which includes some high-tech and publishing companies, and in financial activities, according to the adjusted figures.

The national unemployment rate was steady at 4.5 percent in December, down from 4.9 percent in December 2005.

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