Study: State to see slow, steady growth in 2011 |

Study: State to see slow, steady growth in 2011

Daily Staff Report
Vail, CO, Colorado

Colorado’s economy will experience slow, steady growth in 2011, according to economist Richard Wobbekind of the University of Colorado at Boulder’s Leeds School of Business.

Wobbekind’s announcement was part of the 46th annual Colorado Business Economic Outlook Forum, hosted Dec. 6 by CU-Boulder’s Leeds School of Business and BBVA Compass bank.

“We would all like a more rapid recovery, especially in terms of jobs, but we’re just not going to see that yet,” said Wobbekind, who currently serves as president of the National Association for Business Economics.

Overall, the forecast calls for a gain of 10,100 jobs in 2011, compared with the more than 140,000 jobs the state lost in 2009-10. Most sectors of the economy will return to growth in 2011, except for the construction, manufacturing, information and government sectors, which will shed jobs, according to Wobbekind.

The strongest sector for projected job growth in Colorado in 2011 is the professional and business services sector, which includes engineers, computer systems designers and scientific research and development groups.

Other leading growth sectors for 2011 include the leisure and hospitality sector, education and health services and trade, transportation and utilities. Unfortunately, the job growth in these sectors will not be enough to make much of a dent in the employment problem, according to Wobbekind.

“All the job growth in these sectors is still subpar in historical context,” Wobbekind said. “It will not be enough to bring down the unemployment rate in any meaningful way or to create great momentum in the state economy, but at least it is moving in the right direction. It is just moving at a slower pace than we would like.”

The two sectors expected to lose the most jobs in 2011 are construction and government. The construction sector will lose 7,000 jobs in 2011. The government sector will lose 1,800 – the first loss in 20 years of detailed sector statistics.

Wobbekind said tourism is going to be in “recovery mode” in 2011, with moderate increases in hotel occupancy rates, room rates, casino revenues and skier visits.

“Unfortunately, there remain a number of concerns in the tourism sector,” he said. “The hassle factor is coming up to the top of the list. It’s not only driving to the high country, but in terms of flying, between security issues and rising ticket costs, a lot of people just don’t know if they want to take it on anymore. But overall, we’re still expecting a pretty good year for tourism.”

Compiled by the Leeds School’s Business Research Division, the comprehensive Colorado Business Economic Outlook for 2011 features forecasts and trends for 13 business sectors prepared by more than 90 business, government and industry professionals.

To view the entire economic outlook for Colorado in 2011, including an overview of each of the state’s major economic sectors, go to and click on the Colorado Business Economic Outlook 2011 icon.

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