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Experts optimistic about future of Colorado's economy

Posted at 12:41 PM, Mar 27, 2020

COLORADO SPRINGS — While the U.S. Department of Labor saw a surge of 3 million unemployment claims last week, here in Colorado more than 19,000 people filed their own claims.

But, economists who have been tracking Colorado's growth since the Great Recession are confident we can recover thanks to our strong track record as a state.

Brian Lewandowski, the executive director of the Research Division at CU Boulder, says it took five years for us to recover those jobs lost during the Great Recession of 2007 to 2009.

However, post-recession, Colorado's state economy was the third strongest nationwide -- and kept growing.

So, what makes our economy strong here in Colorado?

Lewandowski pointed out some key sectors:

  • High tech jobs, which are highly skilled, highly educated and high paying
  • A healthy construction industry, which has grown due to an increased demand in housing
  • A boom in the commercial industry, which is tied to population growth
  • Colorado has become a leader in the oil and gas industry, becoming the seventh-largest natural gas-producing state

And even though industries forced to shut down are struggling right now, the hardship hasn't reached as many as before.

"We weren't broken walking into this. A lot of things are broken right now," Lewandowski explained. "But hopefully, that means that a lot of these fundamentals are OK as we come out of this, aside from the specific sectors that are going through a lot of pain right now."

These sectors, like restaurants, travel companies, and resorts could recover once they are fully operational, again. But that also depends on us.

"Are people a little skittish about agglomerating in large groups?" Lewandoski wondered. "So, think about concert venues where you're right next to these strangers. Is there a hesitancy to go back to that same behavior, or do people just feel comfortable to go ahead and engage in life as they were?"

An extra boost could come from a stimulus package making its way through Congress, which would help small businesses with emergency loans that could be forgiven later on.

Right now, there isn't a consensus among experts as to when we'll fully recover from this, but say they hope to have a better idea in the coming months.