Jobless rate up in state

Employment prospects better in Mesa County

The state’s unemployment rate went up slightly in April, but the number of unemployed Mesa County residents declined for the first time since November.

At the same time, the state’s job loss/creation numbers have flattened, indicating Colorado may be at the bottom of its labor force woes since the recession began in 2008, according to the latest Colorado Department of Labor and Employment figures released Friday.

As a result, people who had stopped looking for jobs have re-entered the labor market, said Don Mares, executive director of the department.

“(Colorado) is now seeing thousands of formerly discouraged job seekers who had abandoned their job search renewing their efforts,” Mares said. “That influx of workers caused the unemployment rate to bump up in April.”

In the Grand Junction area, unemployment dropped from a high of 9.9 percent in March to 9.4 percent in April. While that was an improvement, it’s still up from April 2009, when 9.1 percent of area residents were unemployed.

The region, which continued to post the highest seasonally adjusted unemployment rate of all metropolitan areas in the state, also saw a drop in the number of people in the civilian labor force.

In April, about 72,400 people in the region had jobs. That’s 200 more than in March, but 3,500 fewer employed residents than a year ago.

Statewide, the April unemployment rate ticked up one-tenth of a percent over March, slightly down from 8.1 percent a year ago. Still, Colorado did better than the nation as a whole, which posted a 9.9 percent unemployment rate in April.

During the height of the recession, the state was losing anywhere from 10,000 to 20,000 jobs a month. This spring, however, Colorado businesses have created just as many jobs as they had eliminated, said Joseph Winter, the department’s program manager for employment statistics.

“Job creation seems to be bumping at the bottom,” he said.

The number of Colorado residents unsuccessfully looking for work increased 2,700 from March to April to 212,600. A year ago, total employment was 2,513,300 and the number of unemployed was 220,700. Total employment has declined 57,500 since April 2009.


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