Feb 6, 2011 7:15 PM by Matt Stafford

Some not as optimistic about unemployment drop in January

"I knew it was going to be real tough," says Brandon Pelton, who's currently unemployed, looking for work, and fighting to receive benefits in the meantime. However he had no idea it would be as tough as it's been to find a job after getting out of the Army last year. Now with creditors calling and falling behind on his mortgage, the reality is sinking in.

"It's getting really scary," Pelton says. When he hears about a sharp drop in the unemployment rate, like the Department of Labor is reporting for December 2010 to January 2011 (from 9.4 to 9.0), it's hard for Pelton to see it optimistically.

"The difference between a thousand applicants or 800, that number is just way too high still," Pelton says.

Local economist Fred Crowley, with the U.C.C.S. Forum, looks more broadly at the picture and he isn't very optimistic about the drop either.

"It isn't all good." Crowley explains, "There really wasn't very much job growth. The big reason that it dropped, people withdrew from the labor force."

We only gained 36,000 jobs and the workforce shrank by around 400,000.

Crowley says those are discouraged workers, giving up their search; a problem Crowley says we're seeing more of. He says many of them may have been seasonal workers from the holidays.

"It's becoming serious," Crowley says. "They just stop looking for work. They'll wait until the next seasonal spike that comes along in the system." He says that's not likely to come until the summer.

Crowley says the biggest concern is that jobs aren't being added fast enough to keep up; he says we add one and half to two million people to the work force every year, many of them recent grads.

Ben Sandalow is working on his degree and says he's still a couple of years from graduating, but he's starting to think more about the job market.

"I'm definitely hoping that thing improve before I have to get out of here," says Sandalow, sophomore at Colorado College. He's thinking about going back to grad school, to be better prepared, but he says it seems like things are getting better.

However, for things to really improve, Crowley says we need to pick up the pace.

We really need a spike; we need 150,000 to 200,000 jobs being added a month for two years before we get back to normal," says Crowley.

Trying to help jobseekers, the secretary of labor has revamped a web tool, called "My Next Move", helping people figure out what they need to do in today's economy to get jobs in different fields. It lists things like the education levels you'll need and the outlook for finding a job in that field right now. To visit the site, click on this link.



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