Northern Colorado Economy Expected to Grow in 2007 with 2.8 Percent Job Growth, Colorado State Economist Says

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The number of new jobs in northern Colorado will grow 2.8 percent in 2007 – the fastest expansion the region has experienced since the 2001 recession, according to the first quarterly report from the new regional economist based at Colorado State University.

Nearly 6,100 jobs could be added in Larimer and Weld counties in 2007, particularly in the areas of health care and social assistance and professional and business services, according to the report, co-authored by Martin Shields, associate professor and regional economist at Colorado State, and David Keyser, research economist.

Their research is supported by the Northern Colorado Economic Development Corp. and Colorado State’s Office of Economic Development. The two organizations pooled resources to hire Shields this summer as part of a new partnership to collaborate on economic development-oriented programs.

"These reports will be valuable for businesses and economic development leaders in the region who want to protect and strengthen an already vibrant Northern Colorado economy," said Maury Dobbie, president and chief executive officer of the Northern Colorado Economic Development Corp.

Shields’ forecast of 2.8 percent growth in 2007 is close to the 2.6 percent growth experienced in the region in 2005.

Additionally, the region added 5,643 jobs between the first quarters of 2005 and 2006 – a gain of 2.9 percent. The top five growth sectors were accommodations and food services, finance and insurance, health care and social assistance, retail trade and construction.

The region lost 7,667 manufacturing jobs between 2001 and 2005 – a trend that is slowing but continuing, Shields said.

"The region continues on a path of recovery, but we still face a slowdown in new housing construction, which is mirrored nationally, and the continued loss of jobs in computer and electronics manufacturing," Shields said.

Health care and social assistance are expected to employ more workers in the area than manufacturing in 2007.

Within the region, other differences have emerged. Employment in Weld County, for example, grew faster than in Larimer County, although fewer jobs were added. Additionally, per capita income in 2005 averaged $34,219 in Larimer County compared with $24,687 in Weld County. The statewide average was $37,946; nationally, it was $34,586.

Sectors that are expected to grow throughout the region in 2007:

– Leisure and hospitality: 1,200 new jobs, particularly in restaurants

– Private education and health services: 1,000 jobs, largely in health services

– Local government: 800 jobs, largely K-12

– Natural resources, mining and construction: 740 new jobs, largely in oil and gas

– Professional and business services: 700 jobs

– Retail trade: 570 jobs

Shields is the former director of Pennsylvania State University’s Center for Economic and Community Development. He is based in the economics department in the College of Liberal Arts at Colorado State and also reports to the university’s Office of Economic Development on his outreach activities.

Shields is expected to issue regular reports on the economy.