Colorado's Economy: A Recovery Quicker Than Most

November 25, 2014

A presentation last week by the Denver Branch of the Kansas City Federal Reserve to local financial analysts highlighted how well Colorado’s economy has bounced back from the great recession which started in 2007. Federal Reserve economist, Alison Felix, spoke about how Colorado had recovered faster and stronger than most of the rest of the country lead by the energy sector and by recreation and tourism. Colorado is now a magnet for recent graduates seeking a better place to start their families and live a great life.

Employment Gains

In September of this year, Colorado was experiencing a 2.8% year over year increase in Payroll Employment versus a 1.9% growth rate for the nation as a whole. The job growth in Colorado since the start of the recession has been especially strong when compared to the rest of the nation. Since December 2007 the number of jobs in the U.S. has increased just 1% while the State of Colorado has increased by 4.9% with the strongest growth in Denver where jobs increased by 7.2%

payroll employment growth colorado

As you would expect, the rapid rate of job creation has dropped the local unemployment rate to 4.7% in Colorado and 4.5% in Denver versus a national average of 5.8% in September.

unemployment growth colorado

top performing sectors coloradoTop performing sectors

While Colorado's job growth outperformed the rest of the nation in  most sectors, the energy, leisure and hospitality, and healthcare sectors really stood out. The numbers of workers in the energy sector grew by 11.9% and the leisure and hospitality sector addded 6.8% more jobs. Following close behind, healthcare added 5.5% and a rebirth of manufacturing added 4.5% more jobs to that sector. The sectors losing jobs in Colorado included transportation and utilities, financial services, and federal government workers.

front range benefits coloradoFront Range and northern counties benefit most

The Fed’s presentation noted that most of the State’s growth in population was focused on the Front Range and northern counties. The cities of Denver, Boulder, Greeley, and Fort Collins were experiencing the fastest levels of growth. These cities were attracting waves of immigrating millennials who are coming for the lifestyle and to fill new jobs in growing industries.

Colorado’s Energy Boom

The growth in Colorado’s energy sector has mirrored the growth in the domestic oil and gas industry. Over the past ten years, the state’s level of oil production has grown from just over 2 million barrels per month to over 7 million barrels. Oil production has been a strong contributor to job growth across the northern tier counties of Colorado.

oil production 1                          oil production 2

This post was written by Christopher Dunmall, CFA Senior Fixed Income Portfolio Manager at Colorado PERA. Would you like to contribute a guest post to The Dime? Contact us as