May unemployment 9.2% in GJ



Unemployment counselors from Denver are returning for a third time to the Mesa County Workforce Center Thursday and Friday to answer specific questions about existing unemployment claims. The counselors served more than 600 people each of the two times they traveled previously to Grand Junction.

Those with questions should arrive at the workforce center to meet one-on-one with a counselor in accordance with the first letter of their last name (although they can get help at other times if need be) and bring any documents related to unemployment insurance that may help a counselor answer their questions.

Counselor schedule, by unemployment beneficiary’s last name:

A–E: 9 a.m. to noon Thursday.

F–K: 1 to 5 p.m. Thursday.

L–P: 9 a.m. to noon Friday.

Q–Z: 1 to 5 p.m. Friday.

After an 11-month reign at the top, Grand Junction’s unemployment rate dropped to second place among Colorado’s metropolitan areas in May, according to data released Friday by the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment.

Pueblo took over the unfortunate top spot with 9.3 percent seasonally adjusted unemployment, just 0.1 percent above Grand Junction’s rate in May. Colorado recorded an 8 percent unemployment rate in May, unchanged from April’s rate.

After dwindling around 90 six months ago, job orders with the Mesa County Workforce Center have increased to 155, as of Friday. Summer tends to bring more jobs as a general rule, Workforce Center Supervisor Gilbert Lujan said.

Jobs in health care and clerical work are still going strong, and they’ve been joined by more jobs in construction and extraction as well as transportation.

“I think it’s fanning out to where there’s not more of just one sector” offering a majority of jobs, Lujan said. “We’re starting to see more jobs in different sectors. There’s more of a variance now.”

Even though there are more job orders in the workforce’s system, Lujan said employers are still expecting most applicants to have at least a year of experience in a related job.

“It’s an employer’s market,” he said. “Employers right now can be picky.”

Grand Junction’s unemployment rate dipped 0.2 percentage point from April to May, but May’s rate was still 0.8 percent above the local unemployment rate in May 2009. Although the number of job-seekers in the workforce center’s database decreased from a high of nearly 10,000 in January to 9,243 in May, that figure is still high above the 4,300 names in the system in May 2008.

Lujan attributed some of the decrease in local job-seekers to people leaving town. Grand Junction shed 200 people from unemployment total between April and May, but it also lost 400 people from the employed tally. Year-over-year, the area dropped 700 names from the unemployment list in May, as well as 3,100 employed people.

Whether they got a job, gave up or moved on, fewer locals are filing for unemployment. Continued claims dropped from 2,845 last May to 1,883 this May, and initial claims fell from 541 to 416 in the same time.

Earnings from unemployment benefits in Colorado more than doubled to $2.1 billion this May compared to the previous May, according to personal income statistics released Friday by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.


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