Stress, jobless rate both on rise

GJ unemployment up to 8.4 percent

Grand Junction’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate inched up from 8.3 percent to 8.4 percent between April and May.

A year ago this May, Grand Junction had a 3.8 percent unemployment rate.

To cope with the emotions of losing a job and the stress of finding a new one, some are turning to counselors for help, said Steve Landman, a Grand Junction psychiatric social worker and family therapist. He counseled half a dozen men in the past month alone who are coping with a layoff, he said.

Landman said he tells his clients to follow three rules after losing a job: rely on or build a support system of family members and friends; manage stress with networking or outdoor activities instead of turning to drugs or alcohol; and try to get a job.

The stress of moving on can be enough for some ex-workers. Landman said moving out to find a job in another town can compound the stress of losing a job.

“A lot of these guys in the oil and gas industry have moved to Pennsylvania, North Dakota, Alaska. It’s an enormous stressor,” Landman said. “It’s tough for families.”

Landman suggests yoga, exercise or bike riding to relieve stress.

At Desert Mountain Healing Arts, Kathy Ziola helps people work on their communication skills with friends and family members so they don’t take their stress out on others after leaving a job. She also helps people discover what job they should pursue next.

“(My methods) can be used for self-understanding,” Ziola said. “What’s important for me when
I’m looking for work? Is it money, or using my skills, or being with people? What is it that’s really important to me?”

Religious members of the unemployed ranks may find solace in advice from their spiritual leader. Pastor Chuck Jerome of Covenant Presbyterian Church said he prays for congregation members that have lost a job, recites encouraging passages of the Bible to them and refers them to places like the Mesa County Work Force Center. He also tries to connect people without jobs with other church members who   could hire those people or recommend them for jobs.

Jerome said his church has been effected by the economy. Besides having some members lose their jobs, some are also slipping a thinner stack of bills into the collection plate, while others have moved away to seek jobs in other places. Still, Jerome feels church is an inviting home for the unemployed.

“In many cases their faith is probably growing as a result. I think it causes people to focus a bit more on what’s important in their lives,” he said.

As of last month, 7,300 people were unemployed in the Grand Junction metropolitan area, while 78,900 had jobs. By contrast, in May 2008, 78,200 people had jobs in the Grand Junction area and 3,100 locals were unemployed.


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