Feeling richer? Incomes in Colorado Springs on the rise, report says

by WAYNE HEILMAN wayneh@gazette.com - Published: June 12, 2013 | 3:00 pm 0

Incomes in the Colorado Springs area grew faster than the rest of the state or nation during 2011, according to a report published Wednesday by the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis.

Real incomes, measured on a per-person basis, grew 2.7 percent to $36,200 in the Springs area between 2010 and 2011. That's 0.8 percentage points more than the 1.9 percent growth in Colorado during the same period, and 0.7 percentage points more than the 2 percent growth nationwide, the agency reported. The area's real incomes had grown more slowly than the state or national averages between 2009 and 2010.

Real incomes measure incomes that are adjusted for inflation, using data that measure prices for goods and services in all 50 states and 366 metropolitan areas.

The report found that prices in the Colorado Springs area were 3 percent below the national average during 2011, compared with 3.1 percent below the national average the the previous year.

Incomes measured on a per-person basis were 3.8 percent below the national average during 2011 and 3.1 percent below the national average the previous year. When area incomes were adjusted for inflation, they were 0.8 percent below the national average during 2011, compared with being 1.4 percent below the national average during the previous year.

"These numbers show the underlying strength of the local economy. You get better mileage from your paycheck in Colorado Springs than in many other places. That is a good tool for economic development because it means you can get good workers at a very attractive rate," said Fred Crowley, senior economist for the Southern Colorado Economic Forum.

Inflation-adjusted incomes in the Springs grew faster in 2011 than incomes in Boulder, Denver, Fort Collins or Pueblo, but not as fast as those in Grand Junction or Greeley.

The agency also found that, in comparison with the national average, prices in the Springs were lower than those in Boulder, Denver and Fort Collins, but higher than those in Grand Junction, Greeley and Pueblo.

Tom Binnings, a senior partner of Summit Economics LLC, a local economic research and consulting firm, said incomes in the area surged in 2011 amid a troop buildup at Fort Carson. He said relatively low local housing prices played a major role in keeping overall prices below the national average.

Nationwide, inflation-adjusted incomes in 2011 grew the fastest in Odessa, Texas, at 11.9 percent, and fell in just three cities - Ocean City, N.J., and Anniston and Gadsden, Ala. Prices were highest in Bridgeport, Conn., at 22.3 percent above the national average, and lowest in Jefferson City, Mo., at 19 percent below the national average.

The report is the agency's first attempt to produce inflation-adjusted income estimates, which are considered experimental and were released for "evaluation and comment" by data users, according to a press release.

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Contact Wayne Heilman: 636-0234 Twitter @wayneheilman

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