Jobless rate changes little over last year

Grand Junction’s non-seasonally-adjusted unemployment rate decreased one-tenth of a percentage point year-over-year this May, reaching 9.9 percent.

The local unemployment rate was little changed month-to-month as well, increasing one-tenth of a percentage point in May compared to April. The state unemployment rate decreased 0.2 percentage points year-over-year and increased 0.2 percent month-over-month to 8.5 percentage points in May.

It’s common for May to be a stable month, according to Mesa County Workforce Center Supervisor Gilbert Lujan. The flood of students entering the work force in search of summer jobs doesn’t typically affect unemployment figures until June, he said, and April and May aren’t that different when it comes to job-generating factors such as weather and holidays.

May was also a stable month for job orders at the work force center. The center has posted 160 to 180 job orders per day all spring and has maintained a registration of about 8,600 job-seekers for months.

Although first-time and continued claims for unemployment benefits in Mesa County declined in May compared with April, Lujan said the job market is still competitive and he doesn’t expect this to be the year local employment returns to healthier levels around 95 percent.

“Looking at our labor force numbers, it continues to drop as well as our unemployment rate, and that’s not really healthy. Seeing the unemployment rate decreasing and employment increasing is” healthy, he said.

The Grand Junction metropolitan area had 3,544 fewer people in its labor force this May compared with last May. The valley lost a larger portion of its unemployed than its employed population year-over-year. There were 5.1 percent fewer people listed as unemployed this May compared to last May, and 4.4 percent fewer people on the employed roster.

The number of employed people in Grand Junction decreased 1.3 percent from April to May, while the number of unemployed people increased by just 14 people.


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