An uneven economic recovery continues in the Mountain West, with Colorado Springs struggling to make gains on all fronts, according to a report from the Brookings Institution.
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 economic factors in 10 large metropolitan areas in Colorado, Arizona, Idaho, Nevada, New Mexico and Utah. The latest report, covering the fourth quarter of 2012, found bright spots — such as rising home prices and accelerating job growth — tempered by other factors such as “a stark slowdown” in output growth.
While Colorado Springs saw its unemployment rate fall during the quarter, it still stood at 9 percent in December — above the national and state rates. Salt Lake City stood alone among the Mountain metros with a full recovery in employment, while the Springs was among those still faced with “persisting job deficits,” down 1.7 percent from peak employment before the recession.
The rate of output growth slowed in all 10 of the Mountain metros examined and actually turned negative in the Springs and Denver, contracting by 0.5 percent and 0.3 percent respectively.
The Mountain West metros continued to lead the nation’s housing recovery in the fourth quarter, the Mountain Monitor said. In nine of the 10 areas, including Colorado Springs, home prices rose faster than the national average of 0.3 percent over the quarter. And while the nation’s home prices ended 2012 on average only 0.8 percent above their post-recession lows, every Mountain West metro beat that, with increases ranging from a high of 15 percent in Phoenix to 2.6 percent in the Springs and 0.9 percent in Albuquerque on the low end.
The Mountain Monitor is a companion to Brookings’ national Metro Monitor, which covers the 100 largest U.S. metro areas. Among those 100 metros, Colorado Springs ranked 76th in the fourth quarter in terms of its overall economic recovery.