Colorado farms seek fewer foreign worker visas in ’09 |

Colorado farms seek fewer foreign worker visas in ’09

PUEBLO, Colorado – Colorado farmers have applied for 13 percent fewer foreign worker visas this year, as more state residents look for work.

In 2008, 336 Colorado growers requested H-2A visas for 2,831 workers. This year, 258 growers have requested immigration visas for 2,498 workers. That’s 23 percent fewer growers asking for workers and 13 percent fewer workers being requested.

The drop comes as the number of farm job applications being handled at Colorado employment centers also has increased significantly, though the department does not keep statistics on those applications, said Larry Lemmons of the state Department of Labor and Employment.

“I think that’s the largest reason we’ve seen a decline in the H-2A visa program,” Lemmons said. “In past years, unemployed people in Colorado were not much interested in these seasonal farm jobs. This year we’re seeing hundreds of new applications for those jobs.”

The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate in Colorado was 7.4 percent in April, up from 4.7 percent a year ago.

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