Colo.’s job rate best since 2009

Unemployment up slightly for county

Colorado’s unemployment rate – and the nation’s – continued to improve in November, according to employment data released Friday.

The state unemployment rate fell from 7.9 percent in October to 7.7 percent in November.

The national unemployment rate for November also was 7.7 percent, a decline of 1 percentage point from the same month a year ago when unemployment was 8.7 percent.

La Plata County saw its unemployment rate increase slightly, from a not-seasonally adjusted rate of 5.7 percent in October to 5.9 percent in November. This compares with 6.1 percent in November 2011.

Colorado last saw an unemployment rate of 7.7 percent in March 2009, said Alexandra Hall, chief economist for the state Department of Labor and Employment.

Hall attributed the drop to a large decline in the number of people actively participating in the labor force.

“This is true at the state level and the national level,” Hall said in a conference call. “Looking back over 2012, we’ve had a bit of an up-and-down ride as far as the number of people participating in the labor force. We’ve had some months of increase and some months of decrease.”

In Colorado, the number of people participating in the labor force decreased by 11,400.

Jobs were mainly added in three sectors: professional and business services, leisure and hospitality, and education and health services. Every sector has seen jobs added except for information services, Hall said.

The state has seen growth over last year in construction, gas and oil, and manufacturing, she said.

Average hourly earnings for private non-farm employees saw a slight uptick, from $24.11 to $24.75, and the average workweek increased from 34.7 to 34.8 hours.

Hall said she expects to see stronger growth across the state in 2013 if Congress is able to reach a deal in the “fiscal cliff” negotiations.

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