Mountain states slower to snap back in this recession, report finds |

Mountain states slower to snap back in this recession, report finds

Aldo Svaldi
The Denver Post
JJ Hendricks owner of, a small shop that sells used and vintage video games. His business is way up because of the economy. Joe Amon, The Denver Post

The current recovery is challenging the Mountain West’s reputation for accelerating out of recessions faster than the rest of the country, according to the most recent “Mountain Monitor” from the Brookings Institute.

Employment counts in the largest metro areas in Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona, Nevada, Utah and Idaho are down 7.4 percent from their peak before the recession through the fourth quarter, according to the report.

That contrasts with a 4.6 percent decline among the 100 largest metro areas. During the previous three recessions, the region as a whole managed to recover faster than the rest of the country.

“Something is functioning differently this time. The region is not delivering on the promise of a quicker, faster snapback,” said Mark Muro, a policy director at the Brookings Metropolitan Policy Program.

Muro said the areas that have fared better in this recovery rely more heavily on exports, which aren’t as big a part of the regional economy.

Also, small businesses, an important source of jobs in the region, have had a harder time obtaining capital.

Another explanation could simply be timing. The recession hit the region later, and more time might be needed for a recovery to gain momentum.

J.J. Hendricks, owner of in Denver, witnessed the desperation for employment opportunities when he posted an online job ad Monday morning.

By the following morning, more than 200 applications had flooded in for a part-time position paying $10 an hour at his business, which sells used and vintage video games and consoles.

“I was figuring maybe 50 or 60 people would respond so it wouldn’t take too much time,” he said. “Now I have to go through 200 resumes.”

Each quarter, the Brookings report looks at employment, unemployment, metro gross domestic product and home price changes in the 100 largest metro areas. The 10 largest mountain-region metro areas are included.

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