Unemployment down in state, up in county

La Plata rises to 6.1% in December

Colorado’s unemployment rate decreased one-tenth of a percentage point to 7.6 percent in December, while La Plata County’s rose slightly as 2012 concluded.

Meanwhile, the national rate stagnated at 7.8 percent, according to employment data released Friday.

La Plata County saw its unemployment rate increase from a not-seasonally adjusted rate of 5.9 percent in November to 6.1 percent in December – the same rate as December 2011.

Payroll jobs in the state decreased by 2,400 from November to December, according to a survey of businesses.

A separate survey of households showed a slightly bigger increase in employment than in the labor force, so Colorado’s jobless rate declined to 7.6 percent from November’s 7.7 percent.

The construction industry saw the largest private sector job gains in December. Professional and business services, transportation and utilities, education and health services and trade saw the largest declines.

In the last year, Colorado’s unemployment rate decreased three-tenths of a percent from 7.9 percent in December 2011.

The only job sector to see a decline in jobs over the year was information. The sectors that saw that largest job gains in 2012 were professional and business services, education and health services and leisure and hospitality.

Alexandra Hall, chief economist for the state Department of Labor and Employment, said she expects to see similar trends in 2013.

She warned that the unemployment rate could go up as the economy improves and more people enter the workforce, though she said it’s hard to predict the latter.

“It’s quite possible that people who dropped out of the labor force due to the Great Recession have no intention of coming back into the labor force,” Hall said. “I know anecdotally that some people who dropped out of the labor force just decided they could live on a lower retirement benefit than they had originally wanted to.”