Springs lags in Recession recovery

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167454627Colorado has more jobs than ever, but recovery from the Great Recession continues to elude some areas of the state, including Colorado Springs.

Those are some of the findings included in a report from Colorado State University’s Regional Economics Institute (REI).

The report said the economy in the northern Front Range has seen the most job activity while the Colorado Springs and Grand Junction areas continue to lag.

“Although the state economy overall has performed better than the nation since the end of the recession, many Colorado communities, businesses and individuals are still struggling with the aftermath,” said Martin Shields, who directs REI and is a professor of economics in CSU’s College of Liberal Arts. “The varied economic progress across Colorado shows the diversity of the state’s economy.”

Recovery from the Great Recession, which began in December 2007 and ended in June 2009, has been slow. Colorado lost 146,000 jobs in those 18 months, and only recently regained them. The Colorado Department of Labor and Employment-Labor Market Information reported the state had 2.37 million non-farm jobs in December 2013, nearly 30,000 more than reported on the eve of the recession.

Colorado added 170,000 jobs since January 2009. Greeley (6.8 percent), Fort Collins-Loveland (4.3 percent) and Boulder (3.4 percent) showed the largest job increases, with the Denver-metro area (3.1 percent) close behind.

Colorado Springs, meanwhile, has 7,400 fewer jobs (a 2.8 percent decrease) and Grand Junction 3,000 fewer jobs (a 4.7 percent drop) than pre-recession levels.

Colorado Springs’ biggest hit came in computer and electronic product manufacturing, where 1,210 jobs have been lost since 2007, the report said.

While Colorado has 1.2 percent more jobs than it did in 2007, the state’s unemployment rate (6.2 percent) is still higher that pre-recession levels (3.5 percent), and there are 169,000 Coloradans actively looking for work – an increase of more than 76,000 job seekers. Shields attributed that increase to steady growth in the state’s labor force since 2007.

Also, adding jobs hasn’t meant more household income. In 2007, median household income in the state was $60,943, while current median income is $57,255. Shields said most of the state’s new jobs have been added in the lower-paying health care, food service, and professional and technical service industries. A copy of Shields’ report can be found at http://col.st/1i5W5dP.