Montezuma County’s largest base industry in 2014 was created by “households,” a category made up of commuters, or those that spend money earned elsewhere, and retirees, according to the Region 9 Economic Development District of Southwest Colorado.
Looking at data from 2014, the first 2015 Southwest Colorado Index report by Region 9 highlights a need to diversity the five-county area that makes up the Region 9 district. The report is being released in installments this year.
Although agriculture and tourism are two high-profile industries in Montezuma County, Region 9 data indicate that agriculture supplies just 10 percent of the number of jobs; and tourism, 15 percent. Households support 36 percent of the county’s jobs, followed by regional services (road construction, etc.), at 19 percent.
The agency notes that tracking employment and earnings in agriculture can be difficult because farmers aren’t required to report employees to the Employment Security Program, and farm income fluctuates with market conditions.
Region 9 cites the Colorado Department of Labor, the Bureau of Economic Analysis,and Colorado Division of Local Government as its source for employment and personal income. Unemployment data are drawn from the Colorado Labor Market Information Unemployment Statistics, and per capita income is supplied by the Bureau of Economic Analysis.
This initial report calls for more jobs for Montezuma County, which overall has a higher unemployment rate than the state and nation, and a variety in the type of jobs and industries that supply them.
“If our goal is to foster a resilient economy, we need to develop more diversity to improve the number, quality and variety of jobs that are available to local residents,” the report said.
Unemployment rates in Montezuma, Archuleta, and San Juan counties were higher than the state and national unemployment rates of 5 and 5.1 percent, respectively.
The unemployment rate in Montezuma County is 6.1 percent, according to 2014 labor market information.
Despite the high number, Region 9 posits that when those numbers are compared with those of 2010-2013, “we see a positive trend of substantial decreases in unemployment rates in all counties.”
Other key findings included population declines throughout the region during the recession as people followed jobs.
From 2010 to 2013, Montezuma County’s population grew 0.2 percent a year, compared with 1.3 percent annual growth in La Plata County and minus 0.8 percent growth in Dolores County.
Since the recession, however, economic conditions in the region have stabilized, as evidenced by 5 percent overall job growth during that time period, the report said.