Spring sparks jobs in Mesa County

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GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (KKCO) – Good news for Mesa County...February's numbers are in and our unemployment rates have dropped. The warm weather is expected to bring even more jobs to the area.

The Workforce Center is a place where many come to look for jobs, but even though spring showers bring a bloom to seasonal jobs…the unemployment rate is still high and it's not a rosy picture for everyone.

"It's kinda hard, I mean, jobs in the valley are really scarce," says resident Jerry Reynolds.

Reynolds was laid off in December. Workforce center officials say his story isn't uncommon as the winter is a common time for layoffs. Still he's staying hopeful on the job hunt and he has good reason to.

The Colorado Department of Labor says the state's overall unemployment rate has gone down to 7.2 percent last month from January's 7.3 percent. Mesa County's employment rate dropped from 9.1 percent from 9.2 percent for the same time period.

Suzie Miller of the Mesa County Workforce Center is positive about our latest unemployment numbers.

"We see that…at least it's a step in the right direction," says Miller.

She says the biggest change was an increase in our overall labor force and the number of job orders coming in are the highest since 2009, when Mesa County was at the lowest point of the recession.

"Listed [The Mesa County Workforce Center] over 750 orders- we compare that to our lowest point in the recession…465 [job orders]."

The spring warm up can only help to heat up the job market as seasonal jobs start popping up around the valley.

The Grand Junction Department of Parks and Recreation recently posted their seasonal positions.

"Every spring, parks and recreation hires dozens of seasonal employees and we have anything from lifeguards, to swim instructors, summer camp leaders," says Traci Wieland.

Workforce Center officials say the new positions will also bring jobs in retail, food service and lodging.

"It is a really great place for tourists to come [Western Slope] and so we'll see some impact of all of that," explains Miller.

Springtime hope for residents like Reynolds who will keep planting seeds until something grows into a new job.

"Just keep coming down [to Workforce Center], keep plugging in- go from there,” says Reynolds.

Mesa County Workforce Center officials say the important thing to look at when talking about the overall unemployment picture is to look back where we were last February.. when rates were at 9.9 percent.

The Workforce Center offers a number of resources for job hunters, including job fairs…like the one this Tuesday for Kessler canyon- a high end resort. The job fair will be located at The Mesa County Workforce Center on April 2, 2013 from 10:00am to 2:00pm.

The city of Grand Junction's Parks and Recreation Department urges residents to apply quickly for their seasonal jobs before they're filled.

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