Economist: Colorado has more jobs than ever, but income has dropped

FORT COLLINS – Colorado is awash in jobs, but the the recession persists in some parts of the state, and household incomes have dropped, according to a report from the Regional Economics Institute at CSU.

The report, released today, states that the economy in the northern Front Range has seen the most job activity while job growth has lagged in the Colorado Springs and Grand Junction areas.
Fort Collins, Greeley and Boulder have shown the largest job increases, according to a release from CSU.

CSU’s Regional Economist Martin Shields said the oil and gas industry in Weld County and “knowledge economies” in Fort Collins-Loveland and Boulder account for the improvement in these areas.

Knowledge economies are those that include a large population of highly educated people where knowledge is capital, according to Tony Phifer, spokesperson for CSU.

The technology sectors in Fort Collins and Loveland, and especially in Boulder, are good examples of knowledge economies, he said.

“The varied economic progress across Colorado shows the diversity of the state’s economy. Yet it also highlights the need for more geographically targeted economic development policy. What works in one region will not necessarily work elsewhere,” Shields said in a statement.

There are more people working now than in 2007, but thanks to an overall increase in population there are also more people looking for work. That means the unemployment rate remains stubbornly high, at 6.2 percent compared to 3.5 percent in the years leading up to the recession.
Median household income has also decreased since 2007, dropping from $60,943 to $57,255. Most of the state’s new jobs have been added in the lower-paying health care, food service and professional and technical service industries, according to Shields.

“Even though Colorado has more jobs than ever, many of the newly created positions pay less than average wages,” he said. “As a result household incomes have stagnated. One of the real challenges the state faces is creating jobs that pay higher wages.”

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Molly Armbrister covers real estate, banking and health care for the Northern Colorado Business Report. She can be reached at 970-232-3139, marmbrister@ncbr.com or twitter.com/MArmbristerNCBR
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