Leeds forecast: Positive, broad-based job growth for Colorado in 2013

Economic recovery extends to nearly all business sectors, Wobbekind says
By Staff

Colorado will continue on the road to recovery and add a variety of jobs in 2013 across almost all business sectors following a positive year in 2012, according to economist Richard Wobbekind of the University of Colorado Boulder’s Leeds School of Business.

Wobbekind’s announcement was part of Monday’s 48th annual Colorado Business Economic Outlook Forum presented by the Business Research Division of the Leeds School.

The comprehensive outlook for 2013 features forecasts and trends for 13 business sectors prepared by more than 100 key business, government and industry professionals.

“For the state, we see a very positive environment for 2013,” said Wobbekind, executive director of the Business Research Division. “We’re seeing a wide array of jobs being added and they’re diversifying our state economy.”

Overall, the forecast calls for a gain of 42,100 jobs in 2013, compared with a gain of about 47,900 jobs this year. All sectors of the Colorado economy are predicted to grow in 2013 with the exception of the information sector, which includes publishing and telecommunications.

When comparing the Leeds School forecast to employment outlooks for other states, Colorado is expected to be in the top 10 states for job growth in 2013 and perhaps in the top six or seven, according to Wobbekind.

Even with positive job growth projected for the state, Wobbekind said uncertainty from national and international factors will play a role in slowing growth during the first and second quarters of 2013. More momentum will occur in the second half of the year.

“Resolution of the so-called fiscal cliff and the resolution of the European debt crisis will have impacts on the national economy and that will filter down to the state level,” Wobbekind said. “Once that uncertainty gets resolved, we then expect business investments to start flowing again and consumers to start making decisions based on a known environment. We think the recovery will be quite a bit smoother after that.”

The strongest sector for projected job growth in Colorado in 2013 is the educational and health services sector. The sector is expected to add 7,600 jobs in 2013.

In addition, other leading growth sectors for 2013 include the professional and business services sector with 7,400 jobs added and leisure and hospitality with 5,000 workers added, mostly in the areas of accommodation and food services.

The trade, transportation and utilities sector is the largest provider of jobs in Colorado. It includes everything from wholesale and retail trade to a variety of transportation features such as the Denver International Airport and gas pipelines, as well as utilities. The sector is expected to grow 1.4 percent in 2013 with the addition of 5,600 jobs.

The construction sector is expected to grow by 6,300 jobs in 2013 -- up from a 2,800-job increase this year -- and produce $12.6 billion in total value of construction. While the biggest surprise in the sector is the demand for infrastructure work, the number of new multifamily units built is a contributing factor to the increase, among others.

Commenting on the overall forecast, Wobbekind said, “It’s great to be giving positive news to people year after year. Confidence levels nationally are at their highest levels in five years. We’re really starting to see a lot more optimism on the part of the average person on the street about the future.”

Colorado’s unemployment rate is expected to decrease from 8 percent in 2012 to 7.4 percent in 2013, which is comparatively better than the national unemployment rate.

Colorado’s population grew by 1.4 percent, or 71,000 people, in 2012 and is projected to increase by 1.5 percent, or 77,500 people, in 2013. Roughly half of the increase will derive from net migration, or the increase of people moving to the state.

To view the entire economic outlook for Colorado in 2013, including an overview of each of the state’s major economic sectors, visit and click on the Colorado Business Economic Outlook 2013 icon.

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