Report predicts continued job growth for Springs

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Colorado Springs’ jobs market is booming and increased productivity is boosting the standard of living and quality of life, according to a 140-page report detailing the economic outlook in Colorado.

The report, released Monday by the Business Research Division at the University of Colorado Boulder Leeds School of Business, notes that while the Springs has traditionally lagged behind Denver and Boulder, that is no longer true. El Paso County added more than 10,000 jobs in the past year.

“Colorado Springs has been strong the past two years and that should continue through 2018,” Richard Wobbekind, executive director of the Business Research Division, said in an email. “Colorado remains a solid state for growth even though we are forecasting a lower number of new jobs.”

The Springs is on track to outperform the rest of the country in employment and wage increases in 2017, and that trend should continue next year, the report says, “making the region a smart choice for business growth and new investment.”

Three key points from the report are that Colorado will remain among the top 10 states for employment growth; employment and population will grow, but more slowly than in 2016 and 2017; and employers will continue to deal with a talent shortage.

“The population slowing presents some concerns because we have needed the in-migration to fill job vacancies,” Wobbekind said. “The slower rate of employment growth is really a reflection of insufficient labor supply, so not really a worry.”

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According to the report, the state’s employment and population growth will slow for a third consecutive year in 2018, while adding 47,100 jobs — an increase of 1.8 percent.

“The national unemployment numbers are low, but the state unemployment numbers are incredibly low,” Wobbekind said.

Low unemployment numbers should lead to increasing wages across a variety of sectors, Wobbekind said.

The labor shortage may, however, lead businesses to replace workers with machines or other technology, according to the report.

Pueblo saw its lowest unemployment since 2000, at 3.5 percent. The aerospace, hemp and rail industries should allow for further growth in 2018, the report says.

The report predicts the largest job growth will occur in professional and business services (10,000 jobs); trade, transportation and utilities (8,700); education and health services (8,400); leisure and hospitality (6,200); government (4,600); construction (2,500); financial activities (2,000); manufacturing (1,600); and natural resources and mining (1,100).

The unemployment rate in El Paso County stood at 2.3 percent on a non-seasonally adjusted basis at the end of September 2017. This compares to an unemployment rate of 3.3 percent in September 2016.

The most significant gains were in health care and social assistance, accommodation and food services, retail trade, construction, educational services, other service, and finance and insurance. Health care and social assistance, combined with accommodation and food services, represented 45.7 percent of total job gains in the county. Job losses occurred in four sectors, with the most notable losses in information and manufacturing.

Home sales in the Pikes Peak region remain strong and price increases continue to outpace the nation, according to the report. The average sales price of a home is expected to increase to $311,965 in the Pikes Peak region in 2017, a 9 percent gain over 2016. The median price of a single-family home is anticipated to rise to $280,425 in 2017 compared to $256,100 in 2016. Sales are expected to reach 16,200 homes in 2017 and 17,010 homes in 2018.