Colorado economy set for continued growth in 2017, despite worker shortages

Posted at 7:44 AM, Dec 05, 2016

Colorado’s economy will rev up slightly next year, led by hiring in construction, tourism and health care, according to the 2017 Colorado Business Economic Outlook from the University of Colorado Boulder.

The Outlook calls for Colorado to gain 63,400 jobs next year, which represents a 2.4 percent rate of growth. That’s ahead of the 2.2 percent rate estimated for 2016, but below the 3 percent-plus rates seen in recent years coming out of the recession.

Colorado should rank among the top 10 states for job growth for the the sixth year in a row, making it a draw to workers in search of opportunities. Colorado is expected to have the second fastest rate of population growth in the country this year, adding another 95,000 people to bring the total to 5.5 million.

Depressed oil, natural gas and coal prices that contributed to big layoffs in the mining sector the past two years knocked Colorado off its 3 percent-plus pace of job growth.

But many of those workers were able to find other jobs and the great contraction in mining employment could finally reverse in the second half of next year, said Richard Wobbekind, an economist with Leeds School of Business on CU’s Boulder campus.

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