Larimer-Weld region continues on economic tear

The two-county region of Larimer and Weld counties has been on an economic and demographic surge over the past couple of decades. That will continue into the foreseeable future.

The current population of the region is 661,975. That’s about the same size as country’s 24th largest city, Nashville, Tennessee. This is a 46 percent increase since 2001 from 452,837.

Larimer’s population is 350,377 to Weld’s 311,599. However, Weld is growing at almost twice the pace: 34 percent in Larimer, 62 percent in Weld since 2001.

During that same period total jobs in the region have grown from 222,139 to 310,128, an increase of 40 percent. Larimer’s jobs grew by 33 percent and Weld’s by 51 percent. That compares to a 23 percent increase in jobs for Colorado overall since 2001.

As would be expected based on the numbers cited above, the gross regional product (GRP) continues to grow. The GRP for the two counties is $30.3 billion. Since 2013, the annual growth of the GRP has been 6.2 percent. The region accounts for 8.2 percent of the entire state’s output.

The biggest economic sectors contributing to the GRP are manufacturing; government; construction; mining, quarrying, oil and gas extraction; professional, scientific, technical services; and wholesale trade.

Looked at from a jobs perspective, the top economic sectors are government; retail trade; manufacturing; accommodations, food services; health care, social assistance; and construction.

The two-county working age population is 534,830 with a labor force of 370,653. That gives us a labor participation rate of 69.3 percent compared to 62.8 percent nationally.

In terms of labor distribution, 45 percent of our regional workers live in Larimer County, 31 percent in Weld County, 27 percent in the Denver area, 4 percent in Boulder and 20 percent all other places.

In turn, 39 percent of regional residents work in Larimer, 25 percent in Weld, 8 percent in Boulder, 11 percent in the Denver area, and 17 percent all other places.

The above stats on labor distribution drive home the point of how important the interstate and highway system is to our regional economy.

Some of the population characteristics are interesting. The two-county area has more millennials (20-34) — 152,070 — than the national average for an area of our size — 134,330.

Though we are aging rapidly, we still have fewer people retiring soon (people 55 and older) with 167,130 compared to the national average of 184,894.

We have 36,892 military veterans in the area, close to the national average of 37,712 for similar-sized areas. We have significantly fewer violent and property crimes.

More people are on the way. Today’s population of 661,975 will exceed 1,000,000 by 2036. As reported recently by BizWest, U.S. Census data for July 1, 2017, to July 1, 2018, shows significant growth in smaller communities in the region. Berthoud grew by 15.04 percent, Milliken by 8.24 percent, Severance by 16.83 percent, Timnath by 21.52 percent, Wellington by 5.22 percent and Windsor by 9.12 percent.

The three major cities in the region — Fort Collins, Loveland, and Greeley — grew by 1.65 percent, 1.13 percent, and 0.66 percent, respectively.

One interesting thing to note is that even in the face of all this change, the region does not have a regional economic plan. We’ll look back in 20 years and judge whether that was wise or not.

In the meantime, the Larimer-Weld region is one of the hottest regions in one of the country’s most popular states.

A note of thanks to Amanda Repella at Larimer County for providing some of this data. Any errors in interpretation and analysis are mine.

David May is the president and CEO of the Fort Collins Area Chamber of Commerce. Reach him at dmay@fcchamber.org.

The two-county region of Larimer and Weld counties has been on an economic and demographic surge over the past couple of decades. That will continue into the foreseeable future.

The current population of the region is 661,975. That’s about the same size as country’s 24th largest city, Nashville, Tennessee. This is a 46 percent increase since 2001 from 452,837.

Larimer’s population is 350,377 to Weld’s 311,599. However, Weld is growing at almost twice the pace: 34 percent in Larimer, 62 percent in Weld since 2001.

During that same period total jobs in the region have grown from 222,139 to 310,128, an increase of 40 percent. Larimer’s jobs grew by 33 percent and Weld’s by 51 percent. That compares to a 23 percent increase in jobs for Colorado overall since 2001.

As would be expected based on the numbers cited above, the gross regional product (GRP) continues to grow. The GRP for the two counties is $30.3 billion. Since 2013, the annual growth of the GRP has been 6.2 percent. The region accounts for 8.2 percent of the entire state’s output.

The biggest economic sectors contributing to the GRP are manufacturing; government; construction; mining, quarrying, oil and gas extraction; professional, scientific, technical services; and wholesale trade.

Looked at from a jobs perspective, the top economic sectors are government; retail trade; manufacturing; accommodations, food services; health care, social assistance; and construction.

The two-county working age population is 534,830…