Statewide job growth is heading into the holidays on a strong note, according to October employment data released Tuesday.
The state added 8,600 jobs in October and 8,300 jobs in September. The unemployment rate decreased one-tenth of 1 percentage point to 7.9 percent from 8 percent in September.
“It’s a strong over-the-month change,” said Alexandra Hall, the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment’s chief economist. Hall said she suspects that some jobs recorded as being added last month were actually created a few months previous and only now were registered by the survey, confirming a continued positive trend in job growth.
La Plata County has seen a slight uptick in its labor force and employment numbers, but not enough to budge the employment rate. The not-seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for October held steady at 5.8 percent compared with September 2012, one-tenth of a percentage point less than October 2011, when the unemployment rate was 5.9 percent.
The numbers behind the unemployment rate are encouraging at the state and county level. More people joined the labor force and more reported themselves as employed this month. In Colorado, the civilian labor force increased by 3,500 people, and the number of people employed increased by 7,200. La Plata County saw both categories increase by about 250 people.
And with holiday shopping hitting full swing, many businesses in Durango are hiring seasonal employees.
Five new stores and kiosks opened for the holiday season at the Durango Mall, all of which would have hired new employees, and national retailers in the mall have added numbers to their rosters as well, said Jessica Dombrowski-Yizar, mall manager.
Smaller local businesses said they are giving employees more hours to cover longer operating hours.
Though the path to recovery is slow, Hall said Colorado’s economy is actually growing faster coming out of this recession than the 2001 recession caused by the dot-com bust.
But because the state lost 1½ times more jobs in this recession, Hall said it will take Colorado longer to fully bounce back this time. She expects complete recovery to take more than five years.
So far, the state has added back 100,900 of the 151,600 lost in the recession, she said.
“I wouldn’t say we’ve reached the point yet where they are strong job growth trends, but they are solid and growing at a moderate pace,” Hall said.