Colorado likely to shed more jobs in 2010 |

Colorado likely to shed more jobs in 2010

Aldo Svaldi
the denver post

Colorado’s economy, after stumbling horribly this year, will have to limp along next year before it can start running again, according to the state’s most comprehensive economic forecast.

Employers will shed a net 3,200 non-farm jobs next year, mostly in the first half, predicts the 2010 Colorado Business Economic Outlook, which came out Monday.

While discouraging, those losses are a fraction of the estimated 100,000 jobs that the state has probably shed this year.

Even with those forecast losses, Colorado will still rank among the top 10 states for job creation in 2010, predicts economist Richard Wobbekind, who oversaw the forecast for the University of Colorado Leeds School of Business.

“Even though times remain difficult, the worst is behind us,” he said.

Colorado’s unemployment rate, predicted to be 7.3 percent for this year, will average 8.1 percent next year, the report predicts.

Construction will remain the hardest-hit sector, losing 9,000 jobs or 6.6 percent of its workforce next year.

Although builders are expected to pull more residential permits next year, that won’t be enough to make up for a deepening slump in commercial real estate.

Manufacturing, which has lost jobs every year since 2001, will drop another 3,800 jobs next year, and financial-service firms are expected to lose 2,900 jobs.

Government, one of only two sectors that added jobs this year, will be forced to trim payrolls, even with heavy federal stimulus funding.

“Many governments have reached the point where cuts must be deep and narrow rather than broad and shallow,” Wobbekind said.

Educational and health services, a rock through the past two recessions, will add 6,600 positions and remain the strongest sector.

Professional and business services, which lost 26,600 positions this year, is expected to add 6,500 jobs in 2010 as temporary hiring surges.

Growth in that sector pulled Colorado out of the 2001 recession, and Outlook economists forecast a repeat performance.

“It is going to do the same next year,” predicted John Lymberopoulos, a former University of Colorado professor who helped Wobbekind present the forecast.

Not all the economists agree the state will lose jobs once 2010 wraps up. Even so, they don’t see robust gains.

“If we do see any kind of job growth, it will be slight,” said Patricia Silverstein, another economist who worked on the Outlook.

Last year’s Outlook predicted the state would lose only 4,300 jobs. Instead, 2009 losses are estimated to reach 100,000.

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