December unemployment rate hit 7.1% in Garfield County |

December unemployment rate hit 7.1% in Garfield County

Getty Images

Garfield County’s unemployment currently sits about 1% below the state average, according to data provided by the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment.

December figures — the most recent data available — show a 7.1% unemployment rate in the county, with 2,286 individuals unemployed. The same time period shows Colorado’s unemployment rate at 8.2%.

Director of Workforce Development for Northwest Colorado Jessica Valand said in an email to the Post Independent the peak unemployment rate for the county and the state as a whole was at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, in spring 2020. By April 2020, the rate was 13.7%.

Within five months, data showed a significant drop in the rate. Between September and October 2020, Garfield County’s unemployment rate decreased to 5.4%.

The drop, however, proved only temporary.

“The upward trend seemed to coincide with many public health factors, including increased caseloads and renewed capacity limits at businesses,” Valand said. “I will also note that October and November, and then again in April and May, are traditionally months with higher unemployment rates due to seasonal layoffs.”

Despite the layoffs, the county’s tourism industry still saw enough visitors to quell grim economic forecasts.

“We know that the summer of 2020 was a very strong year for tourism for many communities, and that businesses fared much better than was anticipated,” Valand said. “Hopefully this coming summer sees a similar economic climate, particularly as vaccination rates and warmer weather allow for greater activity.”

As of Thursday, Garfield County figures showed more than 18,500 residents having received vaccinations.

Northwest Colorado’s workforce department, an entity that covers 10 counties, receives 75% of its funding through state and federal resources.

We have not seen additional allocations to the public workforce system due to the pandemic, though we hope to in future funding,” Valand said.

“I strongly encourage anyone who is looking for work, or wondering what other opportunities might be out there, to contact our career development staff,” Valand said.

“They are experts in job search and career growth, and also know the local labor market inside and out,” she added. “We are also able to support employers who are facing reduction in force, or other HR challenges, and there is no cost to our services to the public.”

Staff in Garfield County are available virtually or by appointment 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday to Friday. They can be reached at 970-945-8638, or register at

Support Local Journalism

Support Local Journalism

Readers around Glenwood Springs and Garfield County make the Post Independent’s work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.

Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.

Each donation will be used exclusively for the development and creation of increased news coverage.