EL PASO COUNTY – U.S. employers may have added more than 300,000 jobs in January, but unemployment is spiking in the Pikes Peak region.
Tatiana Bailey, director of the UCCS Economic Forum, shared that for the last few years El Paso County has had more job openings than job seekers. However, that’s not the case anymore and she said it’s because of several factors.
Bailey said, “It is significant.”
From 3.9% in November to 4.5% in December – that’s how much El Paso county’s unemployment rate increased.
“I wasn’t surprised that the unemployment rate increased, but I was a little bit surprised that it increased by that magnitude.”
Bailey said the unemployment rate hasn’t been this high since July of 2015. At the end of December there were almost 17,000 people looking for work “and we had 12,000 job openings so that tells you there’s a chasm of about 4,500 now.”
There are several factors behind this latest spike.
“Employers weren’t posting quite as many jobs…we had a lot of new entrants and re-entrants into the labor force.”
The partial government shutdown also played a part.
“We did know about halfway into the shutdown that there were an additional 20,000 unemployment claims in the state of Colorado.”
Another factor – people not getting hired in high demand fields like healthcare and IT due to a lack of training.
“We are still training kids with great liberal arts degrees, but we’re not necessarily always linking some of those and including in some of those liberal arts degrees some skills.”
When it comes to the county’s unemployment rate Bailey said, “Should people care? I think people should be watching it.”
She said whether times are good or bad make yourself and your skills as relevant as possible to ensure job security. Bailey believes the unemployment rate will probably stay where it is now or maybe climb up a little bit more.