Summit County unemployment lower than Eagle County |

Summit County unemployment lower than Eagle County

Robert Allen
summit daily news

SUMMIT COUNTY – Some 5.4 percent of Summit County residents were unemployed in January – well below the statewide rate of 8.2 percent, according to the Colorado Workforce Center.

In Eagle County, the unemployment rate in January was 7.2 percent.

The statewide, seasonally-adjusted unemployment rate was 7.4 percent, according to the Associated Press. A local seasonally adjusted rate was not available.

The Summit County unemployment rate may have been lower because more jobs are available during the ski season. Or perhaps people leave the pricey area when they can’t find work.

“I think the economy is still fairly good, but we have seen a lot of people move out – particularly in the construction trade,” said Jennifer Kermode, executive director of Summit Combined Housing Authority. “We’ve seen a lot of people relocate somewhere else.”

Summit County Commissioner Karn Stiegelmeier said that while she’s “pleasantly surprised to hear that number,” there are many people who are self-employed or in real estate having an especially tough time making ends meet.

“I think the true impact to the county, in terms of the needs, is greater than that,” she said. “(Many) Realtors are not really getting an income they can live on.”

Tamara Drangstvet, executive director of the Family and Intercultural Resource Center in Dillon, said more people could be in need as folks laid off last spring reach the limit to their benefits.

“A problem we’re starting to see is folks who have been unemployed for just about a year now, and their unemployment benefits are starting to run out,” she said.

Kent Abernethy, labor specialist with Colorado Workforce Center in Frisco, said that in January the state added 2,200 jobs to its leisure and hospitality industry. However, construction jobs declined by 1,200.

Both industries have been key to employment in Summit County.

For people who find themselves unemployed, a few local programs offer help.

Drangstvet said the Summit Self-Sufficiency Project involves cooperation among FIRC, Colorado Mountain College and Colorado Workforce Center “to get people back to work.”

It functions off of a one-year grant that began in September.

“Our goal when it started was to help 35 people back to work,” she said. “And we’re definitely going to exceed that goal.”

She said the project involves a mix of people who are unemployed and people who are underemployed, in which case they could be working beneath their skill level.

The project helps people get certified as bicycle technicians or to obtain commercial driver’s licenses, among other opportunities.

For more information on programs for the unemployed, call FIRC at (970) 262-3888 or Colorado Workforce Center at (970) 668-5360.

Robert Allen can be contacted at (970) 668-4628 or

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