Energy, Utilities & Water  June 8, 2016

Weld County 5th nationally in employment decline in 2015

The plunge in oil prices in 2015 contributed to mineral-rich Weld County shedding jobs at the fifth-fastest rate in the nation last year among the United States’ 342 largest counties.

A report released by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics on Wednesday shows Weld was one of just 26 counties among those with employment of 75,000 or more to see its employment decline. Larimer County, meanwhile, came in 46th nationally for employment gains, while Boulder County was 130th on that list.

The BLS report is based on data from unemployment insurance reports submitted by some 9.7 million employers nationwide.

Weld County’s number of employed people dropped 3.1 percent from December 2014 to December 2015, to 100,200.

Oil-rich Ector County in West Texas, home to the city of Odessa, saw the biggest dip in employment last year at 11.8 percent. Ector lost 4,509, or roughly one-third, of its natural resources and mining jobs.

Neighboring Midland County, Texas had the second-largest decrease in employment at 9.3 percent, followed by Lafayette County, La. ,5.6 percent; Gregg County, Texas, 5.1 percent; and Weld.

The loss of high-paying oil and gas industry jobs in Weld County also likely contributed to it having the most stagnant wages among the nine Colorado counties included in the report.

The average weekly wage in Weld County in the fourth quarter of 2015 was $928, up just 0.3 percent from a year earlier. By comparison, Boulder County’s average weekly wage gain of 5 percent (to $1,265) was second only to Adams (5.1 percent) among the Colorado counties, while average weekly wage in Larimer rose 2.3 percent to $986. Nationally, the average weekly wage climbed 4.4 percent in 2015.

As for employment gains, Larimer’s gain of 3.7 percent was the best among Colorado’s largest counties. Denver, Douglas and El Paso counties all tied for 77th nationally at 3.2 percent. Jefferson came in 93rd at 3.0 percent. Arapahoe and Adams tied for 108th at 2.8 percent. Boulder County’s employment gain, meanwhile, came in at 2.5 percent.

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