Colorado unemployment rises to 5.8 percent |

Colorado unemployment rises to 5.8 percent

Catherine Tsai
The Associated Press
Aspen, CO Colorado

DENVER ” Colorado’s unemployment rate inched up to 5.8 percent in November, as businesses reported a steeper drop in nonfarm employment than state labor officials expected.

The jobless rate was one-tenth of a percentage point higher than October and 1.8 percentage points higher than in November of last year, the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment said Friday.

The national unemployment rate was 6.7 percent in November.

Nonfarm wage and salary employment declined by about 5,500 positions, with the biggest losses coming in construction, professional and business services, and leisure and hospitality, the labor department said. The drop of 4,800 construction jobs in November was larger than the normal seasonal decline.

The number of employed Coloradans fell by 8,900 in November to almost 2.6 million, showing the state is still feeling the effects of credit markets that froze up in September.

“We’re still in the reverberation of the shock,” said Joseph Winter, senior economist with the state labor department.

It was the third straight monthly decline in wage and salary jobs, the longest in the state since early 2003.

The weekly average for initial unemployment claims in November was roughly 4,600 ” up from around 2,500 in November 2007, Winter said.

Former deputy sheriff and truck driver Bill Stevens of Colorado Springs has yet to file for unemployment benefits, despite losing his two-month-old heating, ventilation and air conditioning job Aug. 28. On that day, he was invited to a company barbecue, only to be told he was being laid off, he said.

After months of scouring help-wanted ads and submitting job applications, Stevens, 42, applied for work at McDonald’s. He was told he was overqualified.

“The economy is just terrible,” he said. “In my case, I have never gone more than two days without a job.

“You’re sitting there like, ‘I need to get a job, I don’t care what it is.’ I even put in for school districts, for janitorial work, for bus drivers. You think they always need bus drivers. Well, right now, they don’t,” Stevens said.

Now Stevens is applying for a Border Patrol job in Arizona and a police department job in Lubbock, Texas. He also spoke to an Army recruiter about becoming a reservist working in avionics at Fort Carson.

In the meantime, he is working odd jobs and relying on family to keep up with his mortgage and bills.

“A paycheck would be a welcome sight,” Stevens said.

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