The Colorado economy is expected to continue to rebound from the COVID-19 pandemic in 2022, but challenges persist.
“Colorado’s economy is on the cusp of returning to pre-pandemic levels in a lot of areas. But we have to keep working to make sure that momentum continues for the weeks, months and years ahead,” said Jena Griswold, Colorado secretary of state.
Rich Wobbekind, a senior economist at the Leeds School of Business at the University of Colorado at Boulder, said inflation remains a concern for businesses across the state. “But the trend is not exclusive to Colorado. In fact, 2021 was the first time in nine years that Denver’s inflation rate was lower than the nation.”
The research division of the Leeds School of Business works with the Colorado Secretary of State’s Office to compile a quarterly report of business and economic indicators.
According to the latest report — for the fourth quarter of 2021 — nonfarm payrolls increased 152,000 between December 2020 and December 2021 in Colorado. That’s an increase of 5.8 percent.
Meanwhile, the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate dropped to 4.8 percent in December 2021. That was the first time since March 2020 the jobless rate slipped below 5 percent. Still, the latest jobless rate ranks 34th nationally. At 68.3 percent, the labor participation rate ranks fourth among the 50 states.
New business filings with the Colorado Secretary of State’s Office declined 6.8 percent to 36,625 in the fourth quarter of 2021 compared to the same quarter in 2020. Still, existing business renewals increased 12.4 percent to 166,435 compared to a year ago.
Based on Google mobility reports, traffic to restaurants and retail locations decreased as the COVID-19 pandemic continued to exert effects on some industry sectors.
Inflation increased by 4.7 percent on a national basis in 2021, while prices for the Denver, Aurora and Lakewood region rose 3.5 percent.
Home prices in Colorado were up 20.8 percent in the third quarter of 2021 compared to the same quarter a year ago — the 14th fastest pace nationwide.
Weekly wages increased an average of 5.7 percent in December, ranking 18th nationwide. Average weekly wages rose 4.5 percent for all of 2021.
Colorado business leaders are more upbeat heading into the new year, according to the Leeds Business Confidence Index for the first quarter.
Based on the results of quarterly surveys of business leaders across the state and industry sectors, the index climbed to 58. That’s 1.9 points higher than the fourth quarter of 2021 and 10.1 points higher than the first quarter of 2021. Readings above 50 indicate more positive than negative responses. The long-term average for the index stands at 54.4.
“A new year always provides opportunities for renewed hope,” Griswold said.