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New report shows Colorado's economy is booming, but wages aren't keeping up

Posted at 5:47 PM, Jan 12, 2018
and last updated 2018-01-12 20:25:37-05

DENVER -- A new report from the Bell Policy Center, a progressive-leaning think tank, found Colorado's economy is booming but wages aren't keeping up with the growing cost of living.

"I'm not making what I feel like I should be making, it's terrible out here," worker Joshua Adams said.

"The wage growth rate is lagging behind," University of Denver professor of finance Mac Clouse said.

Clouse pointed to a staggering figure in the report which found when adjusted for inflation, Colorado's average weekly wages have only risen $33 since 2000.

"That's a surprise when you look at that number of years. That's a 17-year period for wages to only go up by that much," Clouse said.

Over the next two decades, the report titled "Guide to Economic Mobility in Colorado" also found automation is going to drastically change the workforce with nearly half a million Colorado workers at risk.

"Whose jobs will robots replace," Clouse said.

To survive, he said the changing workforce would have to become a more educated workforce.

"There are going to be changes that require new skills," Clouse explained. "The jobs are changing, and if we don't make the changes, it's not going to work for us either."

"I'm not getting paid enough so what do I do, and it doesn't seem like there's any legislation being built for the people so we can get to where we need to," said Adams.

Other key takeaways from the report: Colorado is growing older and more diverse, it estimates Hispanics will make one-third of the state's population by 2050 and affordable housing is a top concern for Coloradans.

Clouse also said Amazon's HQ2 could also have a big impact on wage growth if Denver is chosen for its second headquarters.

"It definitely would push it up because they are talking about bringing in about 50 thousand employees perhaps and those are high wage employees," he said.