Garfield County unemployment rises in January |

Garfield County unemployment rises in January

Pete Fowler
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado

GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado ” Garfield County’s unemployment rate grew to 5.4 percent in January.

For one of the people who’s part of that statistic, the hardest thing about it is the depression that’s set in.

“I’m looking at losing my vehicles and then my house and everything else,” said a man outside the Glenwood Springs Colorado Workforce Center who didn’t want his name to be used. “I’m just trying to find a way to keep them and keep a little bit of hope alive.”

He grew up in Glenwood Springs and is living in Meeker. He said he lost his job as a driver for a company that transports fuel about a week before Thanksgiving. He’s applied for around 20 jobs since but hasn’t had any luck. He’s called lenders about his truck and house payments and has gotten some slack with deferred payments, but doesn’t know how long that will last. His mental state is the toughest part of being unemployed.

“Depression hit me pretty hard,” he said. “It makes it hard to stay positive and to be motivated, you know?”

The nonseasonally adjusted unemployment rate in Garfield County was 4.1 percent in December. In January last year it was only 3.2 percent. The January figure of 5.4 percent is lower than Colorado’s nonseasonally adjusted unemployment rate of 7.2 percent.

“Although the trajectory has been upward, Garfield is still in better shape than Colorado as a whole and many other counties,” Bill Thoennes said in an e-mail. Thoennes is a spokesman for the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment.

Around 494 workers reportedly lost their jobs from December to January, leaving around 1,975 in Garfield County unemployed.

LIFT-UP, a charity operating in Garfield County, said Tuesday it’s seen an “astronomical” increase in the number of people in need of free food recently.

Another man who walked out of the Glenwood Springs Colorado Workforce Center Thursday morning said he came from hotel jobs in California in 2007 to do natural gas pipeline work out of Parachute because he heard that it paid better. It was great, until he became one of 120 people he said a general contractor laid off in the area last month. He’s applied for at least eight jobs since but hasn’t gotten any calls back. Now he might have to give up the trailer he’s renting and he’s looking to get back into hotel work.

“Everything just like magic stopped,” he said. “(Parachute) is where most of the work was and all of a sudden it looks like a ghost town.”

The man, who also asked that his name not be used, said he recently responded to an ad for a park maintenance job in Carbondale and was told 90 people applied and the applications were still coming in.

“I have put in applications all over the place and nobody even calls.”

Rosemary Pettus, regional director for Colorado Workforce Centers, said, “One of the things that we’re seeing down in Garfield County and in most of our counties is people that have not been laid off for a long, long time. We’re seeing more long-term residents that have worked in the county for years that are getting laid off and are having a longer term of unemployment now more than they ever have in the past.”

Nearby Eagle County’s nonseasonally adjusted unemployment rate was 5.1 percent in January. Pitkin County’s rate was 3.8 percent and the Grand Junction area’s unemployment rate was 6.2 percent.

Colorado’s unemployment rate is better than the rest of the nation. The state’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was 6.6 percent in January, less than the national rate of 7.6 percent.

Contact Pete Fowler: 384-9121

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