Jobless rate in county slips in April
Mesa County’s unemployment rate shrank slightly in April, as did the county’s labor force.
At 9.1 percent in April, the county’s unemployment rate decreased half a percentage point year-over-year and four-tenths of a percentage point month-to-month, according to the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment. The state unemployment rate changed little, falling from 8.2 percent in March to 8 percent in April, a decline of one-tenth of a percentage point year-over-year.
Any decline in the unemployment rate is welcome, Mesa County Workforce Center Business Services Manager Suzie Miller said. While 123 more people were employed in Mesa County in April 2012 than in April 2011, the roster of unemployed locals dropped 362 people year-over-year.
Miller said some people left the unemployment count after running out of unemployment benefits. But she hopes others left the ranks of the unemployed because the Workforce Center has posted more job openings this year than it has in four years. As of May 17, the center had posted 1,137 job orders, up from 1,026 at the same time last year and 788 during the same period in 2010. All but 223 of the job orders added in 2012 have been snatched up.
“It helps to look at the larger overall picture, which shows we are making progress. Even with a drop of overall labor force, there haven’t been significant gains or decreases in the last 12 months,” Miller said.
Still, some people aren’t finding jobs before their benefits run out. Two tiers of state emergency extensions, which supply benefits after people have exhausted their regular unemployment benefits and other emergency extensions, ran dry in Colorado in late April and in early May. New federal unemployment benefit extension laws require recipients of benefits to follow a list of regulations to help them find a job, including a visit to the workforce center for counseling, or lose their benefits as soon as Memorial Day.
Of the 126 Mesa County job-seekers required to visit the Mesa County Workforce Center before the end of next week in order to keep receiving benefits, Miller said 50 people have completed the task. Miller said she will know more about how many people are giving up on their job searches next week when the remaining 76 people either show up or stay home.