Worst in the country? Springs tops list of hardest places to find a job

ANDREW WINEKE Updated: December 21, 2010 at 12:00 am • Published: December 21, 2010

Here’s a lump of coal in the city’s Christmas stocking: Colorado Springs tied for the worst job outlook in the country for the winter, according to a Forbes list based on the quarterly Manpower employment outlook survey.

The Forbes.com report said that the Springs faces a 3-percentage-point deficit in employment outlook for the first quarter of 2011, meaning more employers are planning to cut staff than are planning to hire. Sharing a three-way tie with Colorado Springs at the bottom of the Forbes list were Akron, Ohio, and Columbia, S.C..

The gloomy local forecast comes even as the national employment picture is brightening, with more employers expecting to hire than to cut staff in the quarter, according to the Manpower survey.

Mike Kazmierski, president and CEO of the Colorado Springs Regional Economic Development Corp., said the Manpower survey missed positive signs for the Springs, including the EDC’s efforts to attract new employers and potential growth in military employment. He said the EDC’s own survey of 180 local employers showed that 14 were planning on hiring and only one planned cutbacks.

“We’ve got some pretty good data to show that, overall, things are moving in the right direction and we are actually doing better than most,” Kazmierski said. “We take this (Manpower) survey with a grain of salt.”

However, Fred Crowley, senior economist for the Southern Colorado Economic Forum, said the city’s dismal ranking isn’t a surprise.

“We need the private sector to kick in with the recovery now and the private sector is simply not growing,” Crowley said. “Even retail employment dropped compared to a year ago. Manufacturing is down, construction is down — how much worse can it get?”

In November, the Colorado Springs unemployment rate hit a seasonally adjusted 9.5 percent, its highest point in at least a decade.

At the other end of the Forbes list, Baton Rouge, La., had the brightest job prospects.

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