Colorado Springs News, Sports & Business

Gazette Premium Content Springs weathered recession better than many, report says

BILL RADFORD Updated: December 14, 2009 at 12:00 am

A survey of economic conditions in a six-state region including Colorado concludes that Colorado Springs has been only “moderately affected” by the recession.

The inaugural Mountain Monitor, planned as a series of quarterly reports produced by a partnership between the nonprofit Brookings Institution and the University of Nevada at Las Vegas, tracks the progress of the economic crash and fledgling recovery in 10 large metropolitan areas and 17 smaller areas in Colorado, Arizona, Idaho, Nevada, New Mexico and Utah.

That region is varied, the report states, with cities such as Phoenix and Las Vegas remaining among the most troubled in the nation based on a combined measure of economic performance in the third quarter. Colorado Springs, on the other hand, “weathered the downturn better than the average U.S. metro,” the report found.

For those struggling locally to find a job or keep their business afloat, “it’s probably cold comfort,” acknowledged Mark Muro, one of the report authors. “But I think when growth returns, Colorado Springs won’t need to work through as much carnage as some of the other regions.”

Among specifics from the report:

UNEMPLOYMENT: Colorado Springs’ jobless rate rose 1.6 percent from September 2008 to September 2009, the report said — the fifth-best performance nationally. “Colorado Springs’ concentration in government as well as professional, scientific and technical services likely explains part of its success,” the report says.

HOME PRICES: Among the 10 large metro areas in the Mountain West region, only the Denver area and Colorado Springs registered year-over-year increases in home prices by the end of the third quarter — albeit small ones. Muro said the Springs and Denver were not heavily involved in “the most excessive real estate speculation” that caused the disastrous bursting of the housing bubble in some other cities.

GROWTH: In one area where it performed below the national average, Colorado Springs eked out a 0.4 percent increase in GMP — Gross Metropolitan Product, or the total value of goods and services produced within a metro region — from the second quarter to the third. It has suffered a 3.1 percent decrease in GMP from its pre-recession peak.

Contact the writer at 636-0272.

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