GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (KKCO) - Compared to other states, Colorado has taken some of the heaviest losses in the construction employment sector, losing 20 percent in just one year. But experts say the market is slightly getting better.
Construction projects are slowly popping up around the Grand Valley, showing signs of economic recovery. But don’t let the increased number of hardhats fool you.
“They laid off because of the lack of work,” says Michael Madson, unemployed construction worker. A week ago, Madson lost his job working on storm water control in Parachute. It’s been a major financial blow for an expecting father. “I'm actually getting ready to have my second kid,” says Madson.
Now he spends his days at the Mesa County Workforce Center, desperately searching for a new construction job. “I usually come everyday to check it out and see what they have,” says Madson.
But things aren’t looking so good because there aren’t a lot of construction jobs available. “There was maybe one or two. A lot of them were already taken up,” says Madson.
Gilbert Lujan, with the Mesa County Workforce Center, says more than 1,800 applicants are interested in the construction field. “There's light at the end of the tunnel. There are some job openings within that sector and it's a little bit better than it was in December, that's for sure,” he says.
In December 2009, the Mesa County Workforce Center had 1870 applicants for just six job orders. On average, there are two job listings per order. That means 312 people were fighting for each job.
This month, the number of applicants has increased by five, but the number of construction job orders is also up to nine. That means 208 people are trying for each job.
“There’s been more openings within the construction/extraction field, that’s a good sign,” says Lujan.
Unfortunately a few jobs here and there won’t put Grand Junction back on top. According to the Associated General Contractors of America, from February 2009 to February 2010, there was a 30 percent decrease in construction jobs. Making Grand Junction one of the worst metro areas for construction right now.
For Madson, he’s just hoping things turn around and his luck changes. Especially with a baby on the way. “I’ll be back tomorrow,” he says.
A major contributor to the lack of construction jobs in the Grand Valley is commercial real estate. Heritage Title Company says there was a 71 percent decrease in permits for commercials buildings from this time last year.