The 2014 Colorado economic outlook report predicts positive and broad-based job growth for the next year, with Summit County and the rest of the state seeing a boost in tourism.
Economist Richard Wobbekind, executive director of the University of Colorado Boulder’s Leeds School of Business, which produced the forecast, said the statewide report reads very positive, but not necessarily equally positive across the board.
Wobbekind said many sectors such as construction, which has the fastest rate of growth at 8.7 percent, and leisure and hospitality, up by 2.6 percent, are inherently tied together.
“We’re hearing in general that in tourism communities, there hasn’t been a strong rebound in construction of, say, second homes,” he said. “The data is positive for the state as a whole, but is pretty concentrated in the Front Range where there is a lot of single- and multi-family home construction. In tourism-based areas like (Summit County), the growth of the second-home industry can really fuel the construction industry.”
The report revealed that from second quarter 2012 to second quarter 2013, the median residential home sales price in Summit County declined 8.2 percent.
“It’s very circular,” Wobbekind said. “If the real estate market prices are not recovering, then there’s less incentive to build new places, fewer banks want to finance additional construction, which means no construction jobs. It’s all interrelated.”
The report predicts a gain of 61,300 jobs in 2014, compared with about 66,900 jobs this year. All sectors of the Colorado economy are predicted to grow next year, with the exception of the information sector, which includes publishing and telecommunications.
“Jobs and population are rising, but more on the Front Range,” Wobbekind said. “But that can create more income and more bodies for local tourism.”
The forecast estimates that Colorado’s population will grow by 1.7 percent — to 5.4 million people — in 2014.
The professional and business services sectors are expected to see the strongest job growth, growing by a projected 3.8 percent, or 14,200 jobs.
“Tourism bounced back pretty nicely and gas prices are more reasonable, so that can help both summer and winter tourism in the mountains,” Wobbekind said.