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EMPLOYMENT: Thousands out of work; no signs of improvement

By: ANDREW WINEKE
September 11, 2009
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For most people, bank failures and trillion-dollar bailouts aren’t part of daily life. Losing a job, however, is a staggering blow — and thousands of local people have taken that hit in the past year. More than 25,000 people in El Paso County are unemployed, and 14.9 million are jobless in the United States.

NATIONAL: From a five-year low of 4.4 percent (seasonally adjusted) in March 2007, the national unemployment rate has been climbing, hitting 9.7 percent in August (the highest level in 26 years).

STATE: Colorado is doing better than the nation as whole, with both a lower unemployment rate (7.8 percent in July, a 22-year-high) and a smaller rise from September 2008 (2.8 percentage points in the state compared to 3.2 percentage points nationally).

LOCAL: El Paso County has fared worse than the state as a whole, with an 8.2 percent unemployment rate in July, the latest date for which local data is available.

OUTLOOK: Not good. Unemployment is a lagging indicator of economic recovery. Most economists expect the national unemployment rate to climb above 10 percent before it begins to fall. Employers typically hold off on hiring even as the stock market rebounds and retail sales improve. You can see that in the job growth numbers, which haven’t had a positive month in Colorado Springs since March 2008.

That trend shows no sign of slacking, with job losses of 3.8 percent in July.

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