Wells Fargo offers analysis of Springs economy

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While you’re planning for the future of your small business, here’s another take on the Colorado Springs economy.

Employment growth is still negative,  at -2 percent in June, but that’s an improvement over -4.5 percent from July 2009. Economists with Wells Fargo Securities, Economics Group say the city’s growth is lagging the national pace by a wide margin.

Manufacturing, financial services and construction sectors are still shedding jobs. And employment is down in all private sectors except education and health services, which added 1,200 jobs since the beginning of the recession. The government sector also remains strong. It’s added 1,000 jobs.

Business and professional services, however, have noticeably improved recently, according to Scott Anderson and Ed Kashmarek, economists with Wells Fargo.

At the end of the recession in 2009, Colorado Springs’ unemployment rate dropped sharply. That’s because the labor force contracted by 11,000 people, although 6,000 jobs were lost. Since then, the unemployment rate has steadily increased – hitting 8.9 percent in May. The national rate is 9.7 percent.

A significant stabilizing economic influence in the city is the military.

The top four employers – Schriever Air Force Base, the Air Force Academy, Peterson Air Force Base and Fort Carson – employ about 60,000 people, nearly 25 percent of the metro area’s employment. Statewide, the military comprises about 2 percent of the economy. Locally, it’s nearly one-third of the economy.

In the state, retail reigns supreme.

Retail trade accounts for about 7 percent of gross state product, and about 11 percent of total employment. The top employers are King Soopers, Safeway and Home Depot. The largest employer is Wal-Mart, with about 26,000 employees. Tourism, another stalwart sector, accounts for about 144,000 jobs, statewide.

Anderson and Kashmarek say Colorado’s long-term future looks bright because of a strong education system, high household income and a vibrant high-tech industry.