Report released on Colorado economy

STATEWIDE—Colorado’s economy is growing more quickly in 2018 than projected, according to a new report from the Leeds Business Research Division at the University of Colorado Boulder. The state is on pace to add about 15,000 more jobs than expected.

The Colorado Business Economic Outlook forecasted 1.8 percent job growth, or 47,100 jobs across the Colorado economy in the annual December report. That growth is now revised upward to 2.4 percent, or 62,600 new jobs by the end of the year.

With one of the lowest unemployment rates in the nation, Colorado is marking an increased labor force participation rate, enabling employment growth to outpace declining net migration more than business leaders expected.

One sector that is leading the way on job growth: natural resources and mining.

“Employment growth there is much higher than we anticipated. It’s been very strong. Energy prices are obviously factoring into it,” Business Research Division Executive Director Richard Wobbekind said.

Construction is also playing an unexpected role in Colorado’s reacceleration.

“It’s finally back to the same level of employment that they were at pre-recession,” Wobbekind said. “They are really mostly constrained by lack of available workforce.”

Colorado’s economic output is outstripping the rest of the nation as well, with state gross domestic product up nearly 4 percent.

Wobbekind expects that could be playing into increased business optimism for the Colorado economy.

Agriculture, however, appears to be a soft spot heading into the second half of 2018.

Drought, wildfires and stubbornly low commodity prices are hampering growth. The latest corn prices are down more than 30 percent from five years ago.

Internationally, Colorado growers and meat-producers are facing pressure from trade wars and a strong U.S. dollar.

Combined, “it’s a tough road to hoe in some of the rural areas,” Wobbekind said.