Colorado

Mar 14, 2011 7:09 PM by Matt Stafford

Record jobless rate for the Springs, resources being stretched

Colorado Springs is entering record levels of unemployment. Numbers from January show the Springs increased the unemployment rate from 9.5 percent to 10.2, according to the Department of Labor and Employment. This increase continues to stretch already heavily used resources for jobseekers.

Anthony Green sees how busy the Pike Peak Workforce center is right when he shows up.

"Trying to find parking out here," Green says it's tough.

Green's been unemployed for two years, and he's been homeless. He's trying to break the cycle.

"More permanent, more like a career," that kind of a job would be ideal for Green, but he says these days he isn't picky. "As long as it pays the bills."

Looking around the room at the Workforce Center, Green sees a lot of people wanting the same thing; but many having a tough time getting there.

"Pretty much stressed out." Green explains. "You can see the facials of everybody; they look stressed out trying to find work."

Green says the same goes for him too.

"We have seen this kind of gradual upward trend over the last two years," explains Michelle Graham, director of business and community initiatives for the Pikes Peak Workforce Center. "Each day we're averaging between 400 and 450 (people)." Graham says when the center opened in 1998, it was about half of that. They're looking for specific places to plug people in, not just fine tuning the resume.

The latest census showed El Paso County grew by 20 percent over the last decade, so it seems like there should be more opportunities along with that growth.

"We haven't increased jobs anywhere near 20 percent," says Fred Crowley, a senior economist with the U.C.C.S. Forum. He says the growing unemployment rate is troubling.

"The longer we wait to put someone back to work, the more training that person needs to become an effective worker," Crowley explains.

So they sharpen their skills at the Workforce Center, but despite the negative numbers the staff is still seeing results -- but they're slow-coming.

"Employers are still hiring, but there are still a lot of unemployed people looking for work," says Graham.

Green is just trying to find a way to stick out from the crowd, but he'd like things to improve for everyone.

"Hopefully we can get a job and everybody can be happy," says Green.

You can find out more about the Pikes Peak Workforce Center by clicking here.

Job info can also be found on NewsFirst5.com, just click here to see our Job of the Day or to search for local jobs.

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