Colorado jobless rate jumps to 5.7 percent |

Colorado jobless rate jumps to 5.7 percent

Catherine Tsai
The Associated Press
Aspen, CO Colorado

DENVER ” Pressures battering the national economy are touching more and more people in Colorado, where the October unemployment rate jumped one-half percentage point to 5.7 percent, state labor officials said Friday.

It’s the highest rate since March 2004.

“The state of Colorado is no longer able to buck the national trend,” said economist Joe Winter of the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment.

The national unemployment rate hit a 14-year high of 6.5 percent for October, with the economy hurt by home foreclosures and tight lending markets.

While Colorado’s rate is lower, job growth has slowed considerably. Nonagricultural employment has risen just 0.5 percent since last October, state labor officials said. The state had 2 percent annual job gains in the first quarter of this year.

While seasonal job losses in leisure and hospitality are expected in October when few golf courses and ski resorts are in full swing, losses this October were larger than normal, labor officials said.

Things could be getting worse. This week Intrawest said it was laying off an undisclosed number of people at its resorts, including three that it runs in Colorado.

About 2.6 million Coloradans had jobs last month, a drop of 25,300 from October 2007 when the unemployment rate was 3.9 percent. There were 155,800 people looking for work last month, up from 48,700 a year earlier.

The number of government jobs increased by 5,500, all of them in education.

Linda Stasis, 58, has been looking for full-time work since April, after a $20-an-hour contract job in customer service ended. Despite years of experience, she has yet to get a call back. To pay the bills, she cashed in her retirement plans and took a part-time job at the front desk of a YMCA in September.

“I was desperate. I needed a job,” said Stasis, of Aurora.

Her hourly wage is less than half what she earned at the contract job, and she is working fewer hours. Though family members have helped, her rent and credit card payments are overdue.

“The job market right now is so tight. It’s really hard to get a job if you don’t have a college degree,” she said. “I never really expected it would take me this long to find a full-time job. I don’t know what I’m going to do.”

Winter had no guess of when the economy might turn around.

“With the change of (presidential) administrations and the almost weekly changes in what they’re trying to do on a federal level in terms of the credit crunch, the water is a bit murky to see through right now,” Winter said.

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