Colorado Springs News, Sports & Business

Gazette Premium Content Study shows Springs still struggling in its economic recovery

BILL RADFORD Updated: September 18, 2012 at 12:00 am

Colorado Springs, plagued by high unemployment, continues to struggle to find traction in its recovery from the recession, a report by the Brookings Institution finds.

The Mountain Monitor, a quarterly report produced by the Washington, D.C.-based 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 report, released Tuesday and covering the second quarter of 2012, showed that those 10 areas are undergoing some of the strongest and weakest economic recoveries in the nation. Phoenix and Boise, Idaho, are recovering relatively strongly while the Springs and Denver are among those cities struggling.

The Springs and Denver ended the second quarter with some of the region’s highest unemployment rates. And things have not improved since then: The unemployment rate in the Colorado Springs area jumped in July, the most recent data available, to 9.7 percent, an 18-month high.

“It’s shocking, really, that outside of Las Vegas, Colorado Springs has the highest unemployment rate in the region and is so far above the national average,” said Kenan Fikri,, co-author of the Mountain Monitor. In Las Vegas, which is termed as “the epicenter of the recession” in the report, the unemployment rate in the second quarter was 12 percent.

On a measure of overall recovery — which takes into account changes in employment, unemployment, output and home prices from their low points during the recession —  Colorado Springs fell from 55th in the previous quarter to 75th in a ranking of the 100 largest U.S. metro areas. The Denver area ranked 40th, down from 27th in the first quarter.

Colorado Springs also registered one of the steepest declines in home prices among large metros nationally, a 2.7 percent drop from the first quarter to the second, according to the Mountain Monitor. Overall, house prices declined by less in the Intermountain West than they did nationally. The figures are based on prices of single-family properties whose mortgages have been purchased or securitized by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac.

More recent figures from the Pikes Peak Association of Realtors paint a much brighter portrait of the local housing market. The median price of area homes sold in August jumped to $210,500, a 10.2 percent increase over the same month last year and the sixth consecutive year-over-year gain in monthly prices. Home sales, meanwhile, totaled 898 in August, up 7.9 percent from a year ago. Sales have increased in 12 of the past 14 months.

RELATED

• By broad measure, state's jobless rate averaged 15.1 percent last year.

• Local hotel occupancy slips in August.

• Homebuilder confidence climbs to a six-year high.

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