Economy & Economic Development  December 5, 2016

Annual CU report projects Colorado job growth of 2.4 percent for 2017

Colorado will remain a top-10 state for employment growth in 2017 despite a lull in the oil and gas industry that will linger into the new year.

That’s according to the 52nd annual Colorado Business Economic Outlook released by the University of Colorado Boulder’s Leeds School of Business on Monday morning.

The report notes that the state’s job growth for 2016 is expected to come in at 2.2 percent, with growth for 2017 projected at 2.4 percent. Those figures are down slightly compared to the three previous years, which all came in above 3 percent, but still strong compared to other states.

CU economist Richard Wobbekind said Colorado’s slowdown is “very much linked” to the oil and gas industry, the only sector expected to suffer a net loss of jobs in 2017.

The natural resources and mining industry, which includes oil and gas and employs about 23,200 people in the state, is projected to lose 200 jobs in the coming year. But Wobbekind said that, while he expects to see job losses by the oil and gas industry in the early part of the year, he expects to see gains in the latter part of 2017.

“It is net negative, but we think it’s bottomed, or bottoming pretty shortly in the next six months, and we’ll see the turn there,” Wobbekind said in an interview.

While many wonder what a Donald Trump presidency will mean for jobs and businesses, Wobbekind said he doesn’t expect to see many major impacts on Colorado’s economy in 2017. He said he believes a tax-reform bill could be the first major focus of the new administration. Other actions that Wobbekind said could help (think coal, aerospace) or hurt (think renewable energy) various industries in Colorado are more likely further into the future.

“In my mind, that’s mostly going to be a 2018 effect,” Wobbekind said of Trump’s presidency. “I don’t think it’s going to be a huge thing in the short run.”

Which for most of the state means the good times will keep rolling for at least another year.

The construction industry is expected to see the greatest job growth in the state in 2017, with a rate of 5.7 percent growing the number of jobs in the sector from 157,000 to 166,000. The CU report expects construction of apartment complexes to fall slightly, with strong growth in single-family homes offsetting that decline.

Wobbekind said he expects housing-price appreciation to continue to slow a bit into the 6-7 percent range in 2017. But cost of living will continue to be an issue in the state, particularly in Boulder County where strong job growth will continue to put pressure on housing prices.

“We hear so many industries complain about the lack of work force, and then when they hire them they need to hire them at significant rates (to offset housing costs),” Wobbekind said.

Still, he said, Boulder County and Northern Colorado are well-positioned for more growth. While oil and gas and the agriculture industry, big players in Weld County specifically, Northern Colorado still expects to see plenty of strength in the health-care, high-tech and renewable-energy realms. In Boulder County, meanwhile, much of the growth is coming in technology and professional business services.

Statewide, Colorado’s population is expected to grow by about 95,000 people in 2016 to reach roughly 5.5 million by the end of the year.

CU’s full Colorado Business Economic Outlook can be downloaded on the Business Research Division’s website, with audio of Wobbekind discussing the report online here.

Colorado will remain a top-10 state for employment growth in 2017 despite a lull in the oil and gas industry that will linger into the new year.

That’s according to the 52nd annual Colorado Business Economic Outlook released by the University of Colorado Boulder’s Leeds School of Business on Monday morning.

The report notes that the state’s job growth for 2016 is expected to come in at 2.2 percent, with growth for 2017 projected at 2.4 percent. Those figures are down slightly compared to the three previous years, which all came in above 3 percent, but still strong compared to other states.

CU…

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