UCCS Economic Forum: Expect good times to continue for Colorado Springs

By: Wayne Heilman
September 28, 2017

A rainbow hangs in the evening sky above downtown Colorado Springs Saturday, July 6, 2013. Photo by Mark Reis, The Gazette

Expect the good times to continue through next year – that’s the forecast for the rest of this year and all of next year from the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs Economic Forum.

While some sectors of the local economy might slow slightly next year, forum Director Tatiana Bailey doesn’t see a recession coming unless a downturn is triggered by a major “shock to the system” such as a war or terrorist attack in the U.S. Otherwise, she expects another year of robust growth from the Springs, Colorado and U.S. economies.

“I am thinking that economic output will be full steam ahead next year and wages will have to continue to increase with the tight labor market we are experiencing all across the state,” Bailey said. Economic “growth will level off a little bit next year but I expect the rest of 2017 to remain very strong.”

Bailey expects the area’s unemployment rate to increase somewhat as more people return to the job market and housing construction to decline slightly as the industry struggles to find enough workers amid a shortage that will be intensified by rebuilding efforts from three hurricanes in the past month. She expects economic and population growth to continue to spread south from the Denver area and the northern Front Range, including both businesses and workers moving to the Colorado Springs area to take advantage of lower housing and other costs.

That growth isn’t concentrated in a few key sectors such as military contractors and call centers but instead is spread across a wide variety of economic sectors with the high-paying business and professional services sector ranking as the fastest growing during the past five years. But that influx isn’t large enough to solve the area’s labor shortage, and many of those who are looking for work don’t have the skills needed for the jobs local employers are trying to fill, leaving thousands of posted jobs unfilled for weeks or months.

Bailey will discuss her forecast in detail Friday during the forum. She also will preview the workforce asset map, a web-based platform designed to be a one-stop place for job seekers, employers and students to get information on subjects ranging from entry-level salaries for various professions, a place for job seekers to post and employers to see resumes, job listings by occupation and links to find mentors and college interns.

Keynote speakers Erik Davidson, chief investment officer and executive vice president of Wells Fargo Private Bank in Chicago, and Michael Serio, regional chief investment officer and managing director of Wells Fargo Private Bank in Denver, will discuss the national economic forecast.

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