Colorado employment will continue to expand in 2017, adding a variety of jobs in almost every sector. The anticipated pace of growth recorded at the end of 2016 and in 2017 will be 2.2% and 2.4%, respectively.
This compares with growth of more than 3% over the previous three years, according to economist Richard Wobbekind of the University of Colorado Boulder’s Leeds School of Business.
Wobbekind presented his statewide forecast as part of the 52nd annual Colorado Business Economic Outlook Forum on Dec. 5, hosted by the Leeds School’s Business Research Division.
The comprehensive outlook featured forecasts and trends for the state’s primary business sectors as prepared by more than 100 key business, government and industry professionals. It also provided a look at the state’s projected population, the national economy and more. Most, but not all, of the data collected for the report came in before the Nov. 8 election.
Overall, the forecast calls for a gain of 63,400 jobs in Colorado in 2017. All sectors other than natural resources and mining are predicted to see gains.
“Colorado will continue to rank among the top 10 states nationally for employment growth in 2017, a six-year standing,” said Wobbekind. “And it is poised for continued long-term growth, boasting a skilled workforce and high-tech, diversified economy; relatively low cost of doing business; global economic access and exceptional quality of life.”
Here are the state’s nonagricultural-sector summaries, from strongest to weakest by percentage growth:
- Construction (+5.7%): While multifamily construction is expected to fall slightly in 2017, strong growth in single-family homes is forecast to make up for any decline, with single-family permit growth exceeding the national average by 8%. Including residential, nonresidential and nonbuilding construction (such as roadways, bridges and dams), construction employment is expected to grow by 5.7%, or from 157,000 jobs in 2016 to 166,000 jobs in 2017.
- Leisure and hospitality (+3.7%): With projected growth of 10,800 jobs in 2016, this healthy industry—the first to begin rebounding after the recession—touted record skier visits and strong parks visits for the year. An addition of 12,100 jobs, or an expansion of 3.7%, is expected in 2017—its eighth consecutive year of growth.
- Education and health services (+3.3%): The private education and health care services sector is expected to grow modestly, adding 12,100 (3.9%) and 10,600 jobs (3.3%) in 2016 and 2017, respectively. The majority of the sector is made up of health care professionals. Growth in population and the expansion of health care coverage are driving demand. The industry includes private education, as well as health and social services such as residential and nursing facilities, ambulatory care and hospitals. This industry represents almost one in every eight jobs in Colorado and is projected to reach 335,600 jobs in 2017.
- Financial activities (+3.2%): The financial-activities sector is projected to grow in 2017 by 3.2%, adding 5,300 jobs, reaching 169,400 jobs total. The expansion is driven by expectations of a stronger overall economy that will provide more job opportunities within banking, insurance and real estate.
- Professional and business services (+2.3%): Workers in this field encompass science and technology, enterprise management, administrative support, waste management and remediation services. The industry is fueled by a talented workforce, and Colorado has the second most highly educated population of workers in this field. Growth will continue in 2017 with an increase by 2.3%, or 9,200 jobs.
- Manufacturing (+1.6%): This sector is expected to grow for the seventh straight year in 2017, by 1.6%. The expansion is equally weighted between durable and nondurable goods, adding 1,200 jobs and 1,100 jobs, respectively.
- Trade, transportation and utilities (+1.6%): Employment in this sector, with retail trade contributing the majority of growth, is forecast to increase by 1.6%, or 7,100 jobs, in 2017. At the close of 2016, overall retail sales are expected to increase 4% for the year, which is slower growth than in 2015.
- Information (+1.5%): The information sector is expected to add 700 jobs in 2016 and another 1,100 jobs in 2017, a 1.5% increase for the year. Looking ahead, telecom and publishing should see growth in 2017.
- Government (+1.1%): With federal, state and local workers comprising this sector, government is the second-largest provider of jobs in Colorado, representing roughly one in every six jobs. This sector is expected to see 1.1% growth, with the addition of 4,700 jobs in 2017—reaching 428,000 total jobs—and includes space research and technology, public safety, program administration and education. Job growth is expected in state and local government, while federal employment will remain flat.
- Natural resources and mining (-0.9%): Industry employment is expected to remain nearly flat in 2017, decreasing by less than 1%, from 23,200 jobs in 2016 to 23,000 jobs in the coming year. Compared with the rest of the country, the state is No. 1 in molybdenum production, No. 4 in gold production, No. 7 in oil and gas reserves and No. 10 in coal production. Colorado also is a leading producer of renewable energy, including wind, solar, biomass and hydroelectric sources.
In agriculture, low cattle and grain prices will cause lower net income for the second consecutive year in 2017. Drought and weather fluctuations also will cause volatility. Following a decrease in profits from $850 million in 2015 to $444 million in 2016, the industry is expected to bring in a net income of $392 million in 2017.
Colorado’s population is the second-fastest growing in percentage terms, with projected growth of about 95,000 people to a total of about 5.5 million people in 2016.