Jobless rate in Mesa County at 9.9 percent

March unemployment figures for GJ area the highest in state

The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate grew to 9.9 percent in March in Mesa County, according to data released Friday by the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment.

The local and state unemployment rates each grew by 0.2 of a percentage point between February and March. Colorado had an unemployment rate of 7.9 percent in March.

The number of people with jobs has increased each month since dipping to 70,800 in December, Mesa County’s lowest employment total since May 2006. It reached 71,500 in March, which was 6,600 fewer employed residents than March 2009.

Unemployment numbers have increased each month since December as well, reaching 8,200 last month. Last March, 7,000 unemployed people resided in Mesa County. In March 2008, 3,100 county residents were unemployed.

Consistent growth in unemployed and employed people in the county during the first three months of the year shows the working population that dwindled throughout 2009 is starting to grow again, Mesa County Workforce Center Supervisor Gilbert Lujan said.

“You might think a lot of people are leaving, but people are still coming to Mesa County,” Lujan said Wednesday during an economic update session at Mesa State College’s Entrepreneurship Day.

The county had a record 86,100 employed and unemployed residents in April 2009, setting a peak to fall from as job losses continued throughout the next 11 months. Of that record total, 6,900 were unemployed.

There may be more unemployed people to compete with in the local job market now, but Lujan said the ratio of job seekers to open positions is more attractive than it has been in months. The workforce center had 100 or more job seekers in its system for every one job order from September through December. In March, the ratio decreased to 65 to 1.

“Even though 65 is high, it’s better than 104 to 1,” Lujan said, referring to December’s ratio.


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