Special Report: The Grand Valley's Labor Shortage

By: Mike DeFina Email
By: Mike DeFina Email

The Western Slope has become a desirable place for many people and for many reasons, but there are some developing problems with the increased growth we've seen here, particularly on the labor front.

It's a trend that's effecting not only Mesa County, but many regions across the U.S. and that is the lack of skilled or experienced laborers available to enter the work force.

The unemployment rate in the U.S. is currently at 4.6 percent, in Colorado the number is at its lowest in more than five years at 3.9 percent and here in Mesa County the unemployment rate is 3.2 percent. Simply put, everyone who is either able to work or wants to work has a job.

But with a booming economy, thanks in large part to the oil and gas industry, thousands of jobs have been created in the last year alone and while the growth is desired and welcome by many, there is a problem.

"We have a trend of increasing labor scarcity correlating with significant increase in demand for qualified applicants," Mesa County Workforce Center Manager of Business Services David Porfirio said.

"I've had numerous existing businesses that have told me they've actually been in the position of having to turn down work and not being able to expand their business because they just do not have the skilled labor to be able to meet the demand of their customers," Grand Junction Chamber of Commerce President Diane Schwenke said.

An example of our labor shortage?

Well on Tuesday alone, the Mesa County Workforce Center had 403 open positions in more than 20 sectors, but the Workforce Center as well as local businesses are exploring ways to recruit skilled workers into the Grand Valley to keep up with the demand in the labor market.

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