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New CU Boulder report finds Colorado's growth will continue

Posted at 7:57 AM, Dec 10, 2018

Colorado’s economy is expected to continue to grow in 2019, albeit a little more slowly than in the past. A new forecast released by University of Colorado Boulder’s Leeds School of Business looked at sectors from jobs to housing to the marijuana industry.

The overall outlook for the upcoming year is gradual growth. The job sector is expected to add more positions, particularly in retail tourism, transportation and business services.

The big winners in the job market will be high-tech jobs, which are expected to see big gains in 2019.

But there’s a downside too: the forecast predicts the unemployment rate could go up. Right now, the unemployment rate stands around 3.1 percent. It might go up as more people try to enter the job market. The problem of finding qualified works to hire remains a big problem for employers, though. 

“The biggest single factor is there’s really not any available workforce,” said economist Richard Wobbekind. “Every sector is having difficulty finding workers and so to have job growth higher than we're predicting would take more in migration to the state than we're going to see in 2019.”

Fewer people are expected to move to Colorado as well, partially due to the housing market. Wobbekind said Colorado might not be as attractive as other places because housing prices are so expensive.

“We have seen such an underbuilding for quite a long period of time, which led to high appreciation of home prices,” he said. “Supply is not keeping up with demand.”

He said he expects to not only see an increase in the number of single-family homes being constructed, but also an increase in prices. He said there is some good news: He doesn’t think they will go up as high as the state has seen in previous years.

The CU forecast also took a closer look at the marijuana industry and expects to see it level off a bit. Wobbekind said this is a hard industry to keep track of because of federal banking rules. He said he believes the industry has peaked and will start to slow down a bit this upcoming year.

“By and large, it’s assimilating into the economy at a pretty good pace,” Wobbekind said.

The 54th annual Colorado Business Economic Outlook Forum is set for Monday at the Grand Hyatt in Denver. It will run from 12:30 p.m. to 5 p.m. and is open to the public. The economists that collaborated on this forecast will go over their findings and explain how they came to those conclusions.