Jobs still bring some newcomers to valley



Grand Junction is defying migration trends in Colorado, according to statistics gathered by U-Haul.

For the period January to April, U-Haul helped 5.5 percent more people move into Grand Junction than the company helped move out, according to statistics supplied by the company.

During the same period, U-Haul helped 5.4 percent more customers move out of Colorado than move in, the company said.

Statewide, movement was static in 2009, when 0.1 percent more people used U-Haul to move into Colorado than out.

U-Haul was busy helping people move out of Grand Junction in 2009, though, with 13.8 percent more people signing up to move out of Grand Junction than customers who moved in with U-Haul equipment.

The top nine cities from which people moved to Grand Junction so far this year are: Denver; Aurora; Montrose; Las Vegas; Colorado Springs; Lakewood; Rifle; Parker; and Gunnison.

It’s true that people aren’t rushing into western Colorado as much as they were two or three years ago, but they’re still coming in, said a Grand Junction native who monitors migration trends closely.

“The people I talk to are coming here for jobs,” said Billy Pike, general manager of the U-Haul center at 2949 North Ave.

To be sure, Pike said, the number of people moving into the Grand Valley is nothing like it once was.

“The field next to us used to be filled with trucks” brought in by new arrivals, he said. “Now it’s empty.”

Dig a little deeper, though, Pike said, and there are signs of economic activity that have gone largely unnoticed.

Mesa County’s medical industry is attracting new arrivals, as is, perhaps unexpectedly, the energy industry.

Last week, he worked with a customer who got a job at St. Mary’s Hospital and moved to the Grand Valley from Ridgway.

Frequently, he deals with people who were laid off by energy-industry employers and now are being brought back onto the payrolls, Pike said.

Some have moved back to Grand Junction after chasing work at other energy places, Pike said.

“Family is what’s bringing a lot of people back” to the Grand Valley, sometimes without jobs, Pike said.

Pike, 31, doesn’t remember much of the 1982 oil shale boom and bust, but he has watched the town change over the ensuing years from an economy driven primarily by energy to having multiple sources of employment, he said.

“Thanks to some very good planning, Grand Junction has a very diverse economy,” that is showing its resilience, Pike said.


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