Colorado Springs News, Sports & Business

Report: Colorado Springs lags most Colorado cities in regaining jobs lost to recession

By Wayne Heilman Updated: July 21, 2013 at 5:14 pm 0

Denver has recovered the jobs it lost during the Great Recession.

So have Boulder, Fort Collins, Greeley and Pueblo.

But Colorado Springs and Grand Junction still have a ways to go before they gain back what was lost to the recession, according to a report released Friday by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The report shows that overall, Colorado has regained and even surpassed the number of that the recession took away. Statewide payrolls in June totaled a record 2.37 million, or 4,800 workers more than were employed in May 2008, the previous peak employment before the recession wiped out nearly 155,000 jobs in the two succeeding years.

However, the state's unemployment rate in June remained much higher than pre-recession levels: 7 percent, or 2.5 percentage points higher than the May 2008 rate of 4.5 percent. The reason is that the number of people either employed or looking for work in Colorado has grown by more than 45,000 during the five-year period.

The Colorado Springs area has recovered about two-thirds of the nearly 14,000 jobs it lost during the recession, but area payrolls remain 4,800 jobs below where they were in May 2008, according to the agency's data.

The Grand Junction area has recovered just one-fourth of the 7,000 jobs it lost during the recession, and payrolls remain 5,100 jobs below where they were in May 2008.

Every other metropolitan area in state has recovered what it lost.

Fred Crowley, senior economist for the Southern Colorado Economic Forum, estimated that the Springs area economy likely will not recover all of its lost jobs until late next year, based on current payroll job growth rates.

"Given the job losses at the Air Force Academy and layoffs by other employers, I would not expect all of the (local) job losses to be recovered until the fourth quarter of 2014," Crowley said. "The culprit is the mix of jobs. We lost higher-paying jobs that have a greater economic impact, and haven't replaced them."

Colorado's job growth in the past year was the third-strongest in the nation at 2.7 percent, fueled by professional and business services, tourism and construction. Job growth in the Colorado Springs area during the same period was 1.8 percent, with most of the boost coming from tourism and health care.

Alexandra Hall, chief economist for the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment, called the state's job growth "solid" and said the state's health care, professional and business services, tourism and energy industry have led the recovery and generated most of the jobs in the past few years. Although the state's unemployment rate in June was up from slightly from May, she said the increase resulted from a larger number of people returning to and joining the state's job market as employment prospects improved.

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Contact Wayne Heilman: 636-0234 Twitter @wayneheilman

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