Jobs, housing weigh down Springs

September 14, 2011

Colorado Springs is still struggling to break free of the recent recession, beset by twin jobs and housing crises, according to a survey of economic conditions in the region.

The Mountain Monitor, a quarterly report produced by the nonprofit Brookings Institution and the University of Nevada at Las Vegas, studies 10 large metropolitan areas in Colorado, Arizona, Idaho, Nevada, New Mexico and Utah. The latest Monitor, released Thursday, examines data through the second quarter. It shows uneven progress throughout the Intermountain West, with an anemic national recovery threatening to drag down even the most resilient areas.

The Colorado Springs economy wasn’t hit as hard by the recession as many, said Kenan Fikri, co-author of the report, but neither is the Springs making much progress toward a recovery. 
While employment expanded in most of the Intermountain West metros, Colorado Springs shed 0.9 percent of its jobs in the second quarter and employment fell to a new low, the study said. In a broader MetroMonitor report, which compares the country’s 100 largest metro areas, the Springs was almost dead last — ranking 99th — for its employment change from the previous quarter. Utah’s Provo and Ogden, in comparison, added jobs faster than any other metro areas in the country, with quarterly job gains of 1.9 and 1.8 percent respectively. Those gains came even as federal employment fell 12.8 percent in Provo but only a mild 0.3 percent in Colorado Springs.

The study does note a bright side on the jobs picture: With the recession not packing as much of a punch in Colorado Springs as some other places, employment in the Springs in the second quarter was 3.9 percent off its pre-recession peak, compared with a 4.8 percent gap nationally. And the Springs’ 9.8 percent unemployment rate in June wasn’t as bad as, say, Las Vegas’ rate of 13.8 percent.

On another front, home prices slipped to new lows in all the major Intermountain West metros. In Colorado Springs, home prices in the second quarter were down 21.4 percent from their pre-recession peak, the study said.

While Fikri said the Springs didn’t experience the real estate bubble — and bursting of that bubble — to the extent that many other areas did, “there is no lively, robust demand for homes, either, so prices are going to continue falling a bit.”

The foreclosure rate — as measured by the number of real estate-owned properties per 1,000 mortgageable ones — rose 0.50 points in Colorado Springs; real estate-owned properties are foreclosed properties that fail to sell at auction and thus become owned by the lending institution.

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