A startling new letter from the Colorado Labor Department has revealed there are seven counties in the state where over 19 percent of the residents are “not employed.”
The Colorado Observer obtained a letter through the Colorado Open Records Act that was sent out August 29 to comply with federal law. The Consolidated Farm and Rural Development Act requires the Colorado Labor Department to certify any county where the “not employed” rate is over 19.5 percent. The government certified seven counties as surpassing the 19.5 percent threshold.
The counties noted in the letter are:
Costilla County – 23.56 percent
Huerfano County – 21.87 percent
Pueblo County– 20.09 percent
Montrose County – 20.62 percent
Archuleta County – 19.97 percent
Dolores County – 19.85 percent
Fremont County – 19.66 percent
Unlike the standard unemployment figures released by the government, the “not employed” rate “is defined as “the percentage of individuals over the age of 18 who reside within the community and who are ready, willing and able to be employed but are unable to find employment as determined by the State Department of Labor.”
The U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, reported the August unemployment rate was 8.1 percent. Colorado’s August unemployment rate rose to 8.2 percent causing it to surpass the national rate for the first time in nearly seven years.
The discrepancy between the unemployment rate and the real unemployment rate is because the BLS does not count a person as unemployed once they have given up looking for a job, regardless of whether they are employed or not. This policy of not counting those no longer looking for work is the reason the rate dropped from 8.3 percent in July to 8.1 percent the following month. As more people exhaust their unemployment benefits the numbers will continue to drop even though these people are still not working.
The state unemployment situation could pose problems for President Obama as Colorado could be a pivotal state in the 2012 election cycle.
Additionally, state unemployment rates have begun creeping up again. In August, 26 states reported an increase while only 12 states saw their unemployment rates decrease.