Local job market frustrating, improving
After moving to Craig seven months ago, Chris Vincent is still looking for work.
For the former office manager with multiple years of experience at two prominent companies in Glenwood Springs, the search has been baffling.
Since the job hunting began in October, Vincent has landed about 20 interviews and, nine times out of 10, won’t get a callback.
“I don’t think the market here is very good,” she said. “I think when people get a job here in Craig, they keep it until they die.”
Vincent said because she has a wide variety of office skills, she wonders if it’s her more than 50 years of age, or if being overqualified for certain positions is keeping her from getting work.
Whatever Vincent’s case may be, her story isn’t unique to many looking for employment in local and national markets.
And recent increases to the U.S. unemployment rate reported in June aren’t helping matters. According to the U.S. Labor Department, the country saw a 6.4 percent unemployment rate in June, the highest level since 1994. Businesses slashed 30,000 jobs in June with cuts centering around factory assembly line work.
The 0.3 percent point increase from May’s 6.1 percent rate was the largest month-to-month rise since the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks. March 1994 marked the last time the overall rate was higher.
But what’s true for the national unemployment levels, isn’t always compatible with local and state figures. According to the Moffat County Labor Force, the county’s unemployment rate reached a whopping 8.1 percent in February of 2002. That translated to 5,552 employed workers and 488 people who were unemployed. In 2001, Moffat County estimated a total of 13,154 residents.
In May 2003, Colorado reported a 5.8 percent unemployment rate, according to the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment. Grand Junction’s 4.7 percent unemployment rate for May 2003 is the closest city in proximity to Moffat County, in comparison.
While Colorado experienced an increase of 3,500 jobs in the professional, business services, construction and government sectors, for May those figures usually pertain to Front Range locations, said Linda Dill of the Workforce Center of Colorado in Craig.
“It’s hard to tell from the (state) numbers what it’s really like here,” she said.
Entry level positions in the area’s industrial sector, such as power plants and mines, are opening up. Those positions, she said, require a “willingness to work and an education.”
Also encouraging is a slow but steady increase of local employers advertising with the center, Dill said.
“I think jobs are opening up a little better than they were last year at this time,” she noted. “It’s slow, but I can tell by the increase in phone calls and advertising from employers that things are picking up.”
And local job seekers are looking forward to a rosier employment forecast.
A recent office position with the city of Craig attracted about 30 applicants, said Vincent, who also sought out the government job.
Throughout the job seeking process, Vincent’s considered the prospect of earning significantly less than she used to. She earned $13.50 at a former position in Glenwood Springs. Yet, she dreads the thought of having to commute to a job that may pay only $8 an hour.
“I don’t want to spend money to make money,” she said. “I’ve been looking for a job for so long. I don’t know what to do now.”
Amy Hatten can be reached at 824-7031 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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