Grand Junction ranks near top in job loss

Grand Junction experienced one of the nation’s highest year-over-year percentage drops in employment in November.

Grand Junction had 1,200 fewer nonfarm payroll employees in November 2010 than it had in November 2009, according to numbers released this week by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. That brought the total to 59,200 payroll employees in nonfarming positions two months ago in the Grand Junction metropolitan area.

That’s a 2 percent drop, a percentage that ties Grand Junction with Carson City, Nev.; Kansas City, Mo.; and Lexington-Fayette, Ky., for the 24th largest employment dip among 362 U.S. metropolitan areas during that time period. It also places the western Colorado city in the top 7 percent in a ranking of largest payroll employee losses in the nation.

Yuba City, Calif., tops the list with a 3.7 percent dip in employees in November 2010 compared to November 2009. Ocean City, N.J., is at the bottom of the list. The coastal city increased nonfarm payroll employment by 17.6 percent year-over-year in November to 42,700.

It’s hard to tell how many of Grand Junction’s lost employees left town entirely because plenty of Realtors and landlords are keeping the lights on in empty homes to make them more attractive to buyers and renters, skewing a traditional move-out indicator.

School District 51 enrollment also remained steady this year, but student counts don’t indicate how many childless people or people who worked in Grand Junction while their children lived elsewhere may have moved on.

Express Employment Professionals Owner Nina Anderson said she noticed an exodus among her job-placement clients.

Of the 50 people she had actively seeking employment through the agency in the past two months, a dozen decided to move out of the area. Many are leaving for areas in the northern United States, especially workers trained in the energy sector and construction industry, Anderson said.

She said there is hope for those who still are looking for employment.

Usually when Express is unable to find employment for people, it’s because the job pays less than unemployment or what it would cost for day care, or the business wants a long-term employee and the client wants something more short-term, she said.

“People are hiring,” Anderson said. “It’s night and day from where we were a year ago.”

The Colorado Department of Labor and Employment, the source for the Bureau of Labor Statistic’s Colorado data, listed a 1,200-person drop and 2 percent decrease year-over-year in nonfarm wage and salary employment in Grand Junction for the seasonally adjusted and nonseasonally adjusted categories in November. The BLS compares metropolitan areas using nonseasonally adjusted numbers.

Nonfarm wage and salary employees aren’t the only areas hard hit by the economy in the Grand Valley.

Seasonally adjusted data for overall employment lists 69,900 employees in the Grand Junction area in November 2010. That’s a 2,300-person dip from November 2009 and 10,200 workers shy of the number of people working in the area in November 2008.

Grand Junction’s had a 10.1 percent seasonally adjusted unemployment rate in November.


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