Local economy improving, Crowley says

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Crowley

Crowley

The local economy is improving, despite what naysayers are wont to say.

It’s not all doom-and-gloom anymore, and one local economist is out to prove it with data.

Year-to-date residential home resales are up 8 percent in El Paso County. Nationally, however, resales are down 22 percent.

“We’ve fared so much better than the national market that it’s absolutely mind-boggling,” Fred Crowley told an audience this morning at a BiggsKofford Entrepreneurial Corner, held downtown at Central Bank & Trust.

Crowley is a senior economist for the Southern Colorado Economic Forum and an economics instructor at the UCCS College of Business. His presentation today was a preview of what he and Tom Zwirlein, director of the forum, will present on Oct. 1, at the annual economic forum.

The average price of homes in the Colorado Springs area is up 3 percent compared to a year ago; the median price is up 5 percent.

“Realtors have to stop telling sellers to lower the price of their homes,” he said. Housing prices are going up slightly, while simultaneously, houses are more affordable than ever.

Furthermore, foreclosures are 14 to 15 percent lower than a year ago, and new-car registrations have nearly doubled – from 16.5 per 1,000 people in June and July of last year to 30 per 1,000 people during the same time period this year.

The Business Condition Index for El Paso County – a measure of 10 economic indicators, including enplanements, city sales and use-tax collections and the local unemployment rate – is up in six of 10 indicators.

This index bottomed out in February of last year, and has increased 20 percent since then.

Another positive is that 4,500 more people are employed now than there were in January. However, the unemployment rate, about 8.4 percent, doesn’t reflect this – because more people are entering the labor force.

Although banks nationally and locally have been hoarding “excess reserves,” there has recently been a slight improvement in three key areas. Banks have started to increase lending; there are more loan requests; and there’s been a slight relaxing of credit standards for both large and small businesses.

“Slight” is the key word, here – but it’s a start.

To register for the forum, visit the Southern Colorado Economic Forum website.

There’s also a place on the website to ask economists questions, which they will answer at the forum.

One Response to Local economy improving, Crowley says

  1. I get confused by the variation between the unemployment rate in the Gazette (8.9%) and the unemployment quoted here (8.4%). I like the good news, but I also like to make sure it is real!

    Rick Van Wieren
    August 26, 2010 at 1:19 pm