Region’s economic condition improving with every quarter

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Business conditions are gradually improving in the Pikes Peak region, according to the most recent quarterly update from the Southern Colorado Economic Forum.

The business conditions index tracked by the forum shows increases every quarter for the past year.

“This indicates that the condition of the local economy has shown steady improvement,” the report said. “Additional improvement is expected in the coming months. The improvement could be significant if job growth in the private sector can be realized. This will prove easier said than done.”

One of the measures, the number of people using the Colorado Springs Airport, is down sharply. That’s largely because of the departure of U.S. Air from the Colorado Springs Airport. Enplanements at the other airline carriers are up 2 percent.

But there are problems, despite the increasingly bright economic picture.

“Consumer sentiment is the most likely sticking point,” the report said. “Consumers are not likely to feel better about the economy until unemployment rates are lowered.”

Job growth tends to lag other signs of recovery, but sustained consumer spending will lead to growth in transportation and manufacturing.

“Local jobs are especially difficult to grow, due, in part, to the loss of 55 percent of the manufacturing jobs in El Paso County since 2000. Manufacturing is a high job multiplier industry.

The slow recovery is expected to continue through the first six months of 2011.