Grand Valley jobless rate up, but lower than rest of U.S.
Unemployment in the Grand Junction metro area rose to 4.6 percent over the course of 2008, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
The Grand Valley employment picture, however, remained brighter than the rest of the country. The nation’s unemployment rate hit 7.1 percent in December, up from 4.8 percent the previous December.
However bright the local statistic, there is still a sense of foreboding, said Diane Schwenke, president of the Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce.
“We need to be realistic,” Schwenke said of the national economy. “We’re not going to be insulated from it for very long.”
Schwenke, who is attending a convention of chamber of commerce officials in Las Vegas, said the Grand Valley unemployment rate was the best among people with whom she talked.
“Wow, are you lucky,” was the common refrain, Schwenke said. “Considering where the nation is and where Colorado is, 4.6 percent still means 95 percent of our folks are working.”
Recessions tend to bring out the entrepreneur in a lot of people, and the trend toward entrepreneurship is undeniable, said Chris Reddin, executive director of the Business Incubator Center.
But this trend also is a bit different, Reddin said. The center is not seeing a wave of people who have been laid off suddenly deciding they want their own business, she said. People who have contacted the incubator tend to be “less certain their employment will remain strong” and are taking precautionary steps, she said.
In any case, incubator classes are well-attended, Reddin said, but the businesses themselves appear to be operating much as in any other economic times.
“We have not seen an increase in business closures at the incubator, at least,” she said.
Health-care, recreation and tourism and technology-based businesses remain strong, she said.
In terms of percentage of growth, the Grand Junction metro area was second in the nation with a 3.4 percent increase in employment over 2008, just behind McAllen, Texas, which had a 3.8 percent growth rate, the Bureau of Labor Statistics said.
Jobs still are available, said Brian Caskey of SOS Staffing in Grand Junction.
“Everybody across the board is sort of flat, but there is still work out there” in construction, energy and manufacturing, “just at slower pace,” Caskey said.