Junction unemployment rockets to 9.7%
Despite more job openings, local unemployment ballooned again, reaching a seasonally adjusted rate of 9.7 percent in February.
Meanwhile, job orders at the Mesa County Workforce Center stayed above 100 every day in February, up from an average of 86 jobs a day in December, according to Workforce Center Supervisor Gilbert Lujan.
As of 1 p.m. Friday, the center had 147 job orders to offer the 9,539 people in its database. Not all of those people are unemployed, but all are looking for work in Mesa County.
“When people come in, you can still tell that the job market is very competitive. But I think now people are realizing it is possible to get a job. It’s just going to take a little more effort,” Lujan said. “People are hiring.”
Construction and extraction jobs are beginning to open, with the ratio of Workforce Center applicants to job orders down by half this month compared to December. The same is true of jobs in transportation, and the ratio of applicants to office and administrative support jobs has gone down from nearly 100 to 1 in December to 75 to 1 in March.
The ratio of health care and health care support jobs, however, nearly doubled in the county between December and March, which Lujan attributed to saturation in the field. Still, the ratio remains low at 40 qualified applicants for each health care job.
First-time filings for unemployment benefits increased by 54 in February compared with the month before, when there were 506 initial filings. Filings for continued unemployment benefits went down by 58 during the same time, reaching 2,712 in February.
The state Department of Labor and Employment reported 7,700 Mesa County residents were without a job and seeking employment in February.
Colorado’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate increased 0.3 percent from January to February, but its February unemployment rate was 2 percentage points below Mesa County’s. The state tied with Maryland and Arkansas for 33rd lowest seasonally adjusted unemployment rate in the United States in February, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics.