Unemployment down in Grand County | SkyHiNews.com

Unemployment down in Grand County

Dallas Lester packages cheese at her job in Granby. Unemployment in Grand County dropped to 3.8 percent in April, a nearly 1 percent drop from one year ago.
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Data from the Northwestern Colorado Council of Governments shows that unemployment in Grand County dropped nearly 1 percentage point from April 2014 to April 2015.

The county’s unemployment rate was down to 3.8 percent from 4.6 percent at the same time last year, below both the state and national average, according to NWCCOG.

Statewide unemployment was at 4.4 percent in April. The national rate was 5.4 percent.

The size of Grand County’s labor force dropped slightly during the same time period from 8,845 to 8,739 or about 1 percent.

A simultaneous drop in unemployment and labor force can sometimes be attributed to an increase in “discouraged workers,” or workers who are willing and able to work but have not looked for a job recently due to a poorly perceived job market.

Discouraged workers are not counted as part of the labor force.

But Tekoa Shalom with the Colorado Workforce Center in Granby said employers are seeking workers in Grand County.

“I’m basically getting more jobs than I have applicants for, so to speak, or qualified applicants for because there are some businesses here that are really in need of some individuals, and we just don’t have the type of individual to fill that specific position,” Shalom said. “I expect the as the summer starts picking up and everything that the jobs will really start coming in.”

Patrick Brower with Grand Enterprise Initiative said there’s no question that employers are having a tough time finding both skilled and unskilled workers.

Brower provides business coaching for those who already own or hope to start a business in the county.

From April to May, Brower said he did the most client meetings he’s ever done.

“Housing has once again come back as an issue,” Brower said. “It’s not easy to find housing for low or even medium level paid employees.”

With employers feeling the pinch of a small labor force, Brower said he anticipated a push for more affordable housing in Grand County.

Job growth in Grand County hit 4.4 percent between Q4 2013 and Q4 2014, well above the statewide growth rate of 3.7 percent during the same period, according to NWCCOG.

Regionally, the industry with the most growth was construction, which had 9.5 percent job growth, according to NWCCOG. Agriculture had growth of 8 percent, while health care had the third largest job growth with 7.1 percent.

Local financial and estate professionals have expressed confidence that low inventory in Grand County’s real estate market could spur more building to meet steady demand.

That in turn could lead to more job growth in one the county’s biggest industries.

Grand County still lags slightly behind northwest Colorado in terms of unemployment.

The region, which also includes Summit, Pitkin, Jackson and Eagle counties, had an unemployment rate of 3.7 percent in April 2015, down from 4.4 percent the year before, according to NWCCOG.

Grand County had the 18th lowest unemployment rate in Colorado in April.

Regionally, the labor force also grew by around 2 percent. Grand County was the only county in the region whose labor force shrank.

But the Colorado Department of Local Affairs anticipates a bit of a population boom in Grand County over the next 10 years.

DOLA’s population growth estimate for Grand County between 2015 and 2025 is 28 percent, or an increase from 14,949 residents to 19,206.

Grand ties Summit County for the highest growth estimate.

In the short term, however, Brower said he anticipates the need for employees will only grow.

“There’s more people than I’ve seen in the past interested in doing their own thing or improving hteir existing business,” Brower said, “and people are in a position to do that.”

For more information on the Colorado Workforce Center visit connectingcolorado.com.

For more information about the Grand Enterprise Initiative, visit grandei.org.

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