CU Boulder analysis: Colorado's economy shows strong growth, rural communities lag behind

BOULDER, Colo. – A report from CU Boulder’s Business Research Division finds that Colorado’s metropolitan areas are leading strong economic growth around the state.

The report analyzed a range of data from the Colorado Secretary of State’s Office, including business filings, unemployment rates and home prices.

Overall, the report found the state’s economy grew by 5.1 percent in the 12-month period ending in the third quarter of 2016, with an added 50,300 jobs year-over year.

In the first quarter of 2017, unemployment was down to 2.9 percent statewide and new business filings were up by 9.3 percent year-over year.

The news isn’t all good, though – the report shows Colorado’s rural communities lagging behind urban areas in employment levels. While statewide employment was up year-over-year in February, the report found rural areas saw slow growth or even declines in employment numbers.

Despite the weak numbers from rural communities, Secretary of State Wayne Williams said the report is encouraging for Colorado’s future.

“The economic conditions in rural Colorado warrant continued monitoring, but the solid growth in most Colorado economic indicators – coupled with the high level of optimism from our business leaders – is very encouraging as we move ahead in 2017,” Williams said.

Richard Wobbekind, Director of CU Boulder’s Business Research Division, said the report also raises some concerns about growth in the coming months and years, as rising home prices are making it increasingly difficult for people to find affordable housing.

The CU Boulder report found that residential construction in Colorado was up nearly 25 percent year-over-year in February and home prices were up 10.5 percent.

“While the indicators are positive, we continue to keep our eye on capacity issues in Colorado,” Wobbekind said. “We need to understand how much the low unemployment rate and the availability and affordability of housing may constrain growth in the short term.”

A forecast from real estate data company Location, Inc. earlier this week predicted that Denver and other cities along the Front Range would start to see significant decreases in home prices in 2019.


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