Colorado’s broad economic expansion to continue in 2015, says CU-Boulder’s Leeds School

By Staff

Leeds School of Business
With 2014 marking Colorado’s highest employment growth since the start of the 21st century, the state will continue to expand in 2015, adding a variety of jobs in almost every business sector, according to economist Richard Wobbekind of the University of Colorado Boulder’s Leeds School of Business.

Wobbekind’s announcement was part of the 50th annual Colorado Business Economic Outlook Forum presented Monday by the Leeds School’s Business Research Division. The comprehensive outlook report for 2015 features forecasts and trends for 13 business sectors prepared by more than 100 key business, government and industry professionals.

“Not only is the state’s economy solidly in positive territory, but it is ranking in the top five nationally for population growth, employment growth, wage and salary growth and personal income growth,” said Wobbekind, who’s also the senior associate dean for academic programs at the Leeds School. “With Colorado’s low unemployment rate, we are now hearing about worker shortages for some industries, as well as upward wage pressures.”

Overall, the forecast calls for a gain of 61,300 jobs in Colorado in 2015. All sectors of the state’s economy are predicted to grow in 2015 with the exception of the information industry, which is expected to remain flat.

Colorado is expected to be in the top 10 states for job growth in 2015 with workers added in both goods- and services-producing sectors.

The strongest sector for projected job growth in Colorado in 2015 is the professional and business services sector, which is expected to add 12,800 jobs, or grow by 3.3 percent.

“Part of the strength in the professional and business services sector is linked to innovation and high tech in the state, and part is attributable to infrastructure development and repair in the state,” said Wobbekind.

Other leading job growth sectors for 2015 include the leisure and hospitality sector, which is expected to add 11,200 jobs, and the education and health services sector, which is expected to add 9,300 jobs.

The trade, transportation and utilities sector -- which includes everything from wholesale and retail trade to a variety of transportation features such as Denver International Airport and gas pipelines, as well as utilities -- is the largest provider of jobs in Colorado. It is expected to add 9,100 jobs in 2015.

DIA, which served more than 52.5 million passengers in 2013 and is the 15th busiest airport in the world, is projected to hit records in 2015 despite construction at the facility and roadwork in the area.

Retail sales in the state are anticipated to rise by 7 percent in 2015, down slightly from 8 percent growth in 2014.

Though it was one of the greatest casualties of the recession, the construction sector has exhibited strong growth in recent years in values, permits and employment, according to Wobbekind. It’s expected to add 6,000 jobs in 2015.

Colorado’s total construction activity, which will be reported at just under $12 billion for 2014, is forecast to increase by $1.4 billion in 2015 with infrastructure volumes and residential permit values expected to rise. Also, a surge will be seen in nonresidential building.

Colorado’s unemployment rate is expected to remain below 5 percent in 2015, around 4.6 percent, which is comparatively better than the national unemployment rate.

“We are quite fortunate for the jobs being created in the state,” said Wobbekind. “Between 2013 and 2015, Colorado will record the three best years for job growth since 2000.”

Colorado’s population is the fourth fastest growing in the country by percentage behind North Dakota, the District of Columbia and Utah. The state’s population is projected to grow by 1.7 percent, or by 89,000 people, to a total of about 5.4 million people by July 2015.

To view the entire economic outlook for Colorado in 2015 including other sectors -- such as agriculture, natural resources and mining, financial activities and government -- visit