Mesa County unemployment filings continue to drop

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GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (KKCO) -- It was a strange start to 2013 for unemployment across the state. Eleven mass layoffs accounted for more than 1,700 jobs lost in Colorado in January, making unemployment claims jump 221 percent from last year.

Usually, Mesa County lags behind the national and state trends, but this time, we're showing strides in unemployment numbers.

Many are still searching, but some are finally finding success.

"We had a number of applicants," Home Care of the Grand Valley CEO Sue Brown said of the Mesa County Workforce Center job fair in January. "We had three positions open for the entry level caregiver and we filled all of them."

Employers like Home Care of the Grand Valley are working to put Mesa County back to work in 2013, and experts say unemployment filings are continuing to drop year-to-year in the Valley.

"We’re seeing a decrease from January of last year to January of this year," Mesa County Workforce Center business administrator Suzie Miller said. “We haven't been going up and down, it's been remaining relatively stagnant so to speak."

In the past five years, Mesa County has watched its filings for unemployment claims decrease year-to-year for January and February dating back to 2009.

"Overall while one month may seem out of whack, our general growth has been in the right direction," Miller said.

Those unemployment filings have even dropped in 2013, doing from 367 in January to 272 in February.

"We’re seeing people that are first time hires, college students, we're looking at people who have been in the workforce for a while," Home Depot trade specialist Dennis Rosette said of the store’s Spring hiring. "It’s our busiest time of year, and that's when we need to add associates."

Local businesses are optimistic they'll continue to find a need to hire, and hopefully see the economy make a turn for the better soon.

There are other signs unemployment is improving in Mesa County, as the Workforce Center listed 244 new job orders last month, and almost all the companies at the January job fair hired multiple employees.

The Workforce Center says its unemployment rates are typically higher in January. Those numbers for January and February will be released this month.

Across the country, 236,000 jobs were added in February, and the unemployment rate dropped to 7.7 percent. That’s the lowest rate since 2008.

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