Unemployment rate in Pitkin County jumps in April

Wyatt Haupt Jr.
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado

PITKIN COUNTY ” A seasonal increase in job losses coupled with a growing labor force helped push the unemployment rate in Pitkin County to 6.6 percent in April, according to a state report released Friday.

That was nearly three times higher than the 2.3 percent reading in April 2008 and well above the 4.1 percent recorded in March 2009, the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment reported.

The regional labor force also rose in the period, climbing to 11,763 in April 2009 from 11,639 in April 2008. At the same time, the number of employed individuals dropped to 10,991 from 11,372, the labor department reported.

The number of unemployed people advanced to 772 from 267 in the same year-to-year period.

In neighboring Garfield County, the jobless rate surged to 6.8 percent in April from 2.6 percent in April 2008. Meanwhile, the Garfield County labor force rose to 36,611 from 35,970 in the same period.

Joseph Winter, a senior economist with the labor department, said the decrease in natural gas activity along the Interstate 70 corridor had an impact on the downvalley jobless numbers.

“It is the same story as Grand Junction,” said Winter, where the jobless rate more than doubled in the last year.

Statewide, the unemployment rate increased to 7.3 percent in April from 4.2 percent in April 2008, while the labor force increased by about 4,500. Among the sectors that took the hardest hits in the year-over-year period were construction (down 23,500) and trade, transportation and utilities (off 17,900).

Dolores County had the highest jobless rate in the state last month at 14.9 percent, while Cheyenne County had the lowest rate at 3.3 percent.

Eagle County posted a jobless rate of 7.2 percent in April. That was up from 2.9 percent in April 2008. Data is not seasonally adjusted.