Economic growth in the Colorado Springs area slowed to a near-standstill last year, according to data released Tuesday by the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis.
Unadjusted data paints a different picture, indicating that the area's economic output in 2012 grew by 3.2 percent from 2011 to $28 billion. That's down from 4.4 percent in 2011 and 5.5 percent in 2010, and was the second slowest among the state's seven metropolitan areas, after Grand Junction.
However, all of the economic growth in the Colorado Springs area came from either inflation or population growth. When both are subtracted - which provides a more realistic picture of economic growth - the area's output declined by $1 per capita from 2011 and remained nearly $400 below its peak in 2007, before the recession hit.
Inflation-adjusted economic growth in the Springs last year was just 1.3 percent, ranking 226th among the nation's 381 metro areas and a little more than half of the 2.5-percent growth rate for all metro areas nationwide, the agency said. Much of the growth nationwide was fueled by a resurgent manufacturing sector and a strong retail industry.
Tom Binnings of Summit Economics LLC, a local economic research and consulting firm, said the area's growth slowed last year primarily because of a weakening in industries that fueled the local economy in the past, including professional and technical services and real estate.
But her saw a few positive signs in high-wage industries such as manufacturing, information technology and financial services, all of which expanded much faster than the area's inflation rate.
The strongest output growth came in the utility industry, likely resulting from the 2011 ramp-up of construction of the Southern Delivery System, a $1 billion project to build a 53-mile pipeline from Pueblo Reservoir to Colorado Springs, said Fred Crowley, senior economist for the Southern Colorado Economic Forum.
Economic output by the area's utilities industry in 2012 jumped 64 percent from 2011 to $584 million, accounting for more than one-fourth of the growth in the overall economy.
Midland, Texas, reported the fastest inflation-adjusted growth of any metro area at 14.4 percent; Shreveport, La., had the biggest decline at 11.1 percent.
Elsewhere in Colorado, inflation-adjusted economic growth rates were 3.7 percent in Boulder and Greeley, 2.6 percent in Fort Collins, 2.5 percent in Denver and 1.6 percent in Pueblo. Grand Junction's rate was down 0.2 percent.
Economic output is the value of goods and services generated in a local economy and is calculated by the Bureau of Economic Analysis for all 50 states and 381 metro areas. The bureau calculates the output data, which it calls gross domestic product, by adding together output from all industries in a metro area.
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