Clark's Cone of Silence

A unique look at economic development in the region

Why Colorado’s Unemployment Rate Continues to Drop

Colorado's unemployment rate fell to 6.9 percent in April, two-tenths of a percentage point from March, according to the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment.

This is the lowest Colorado's unemployment has been since January 2009 and is just 800 payroll jobs under the state's May 2008 peak.

A direct correlation to the drop in our unemployment rate can be seen in the numbers of jobs available in the Metro Denver region. On his job listing website, Metro Denver E-Force Digital Agent Andrew Hudson notes that "companies big and small are growing their ranks and the number of jobs and the quality of positions continues to improve."

I've often said that Colorado would be one of the last states to enter the recession and one of the first states to exit.

And while the latest job numbers prove that premise, I want to share with you the reasons why our regional and state economy continues to outperform many aeas of the country.

  1. Metro Denver has a diversified economy: Since the 1980s oil bust, our region has made a conscious effort to diversify into more industries than just oil. The data from our 2013 Industry Cluster proves that this was a wise decision. All but one of our eight industry clusters showed growth in fiscal year 2012.
  2. Colorado has a highly educated workforce: Of Colorado's adult population, more than 36 percent have a bachelor's degree or higher, making Colorado the third-most highly educated state in the country after Massachusetts and Maryland. Smart people tend to find smart solutions to any problem, which is what we saw happen here. People didn't let the recession get them down, but became resourceful on how we could get out of it quickly.  
  3. People want to live here: We've often highlighted how Metro Denver was the number one region for relocating adults ages 25-34. People choosing a place for quality of life instead of a job position is quite a different trend from when I first started in economic development, when people moved to a place because their job brought them there. 
  4. Companies are choosing Metro Denver: Building off of my previous point, we have the right people, the right business costs and a great playground in our backyard. Company executives recognize this and want to be in our state. In the past month alone, eight companies announced expansion or relocation plans in Metro Denver. 
  5. Entrepreneurs thrive here: Metro Denver is often touted for its highly entrepreneurial community. Most recently, the Business Journals ranked Metro Denver third of 102 U.S. markets for entrepreneurial activity. This is a big jump from three years ago, when Denver wasn't even featured in the top 10 for most small-business rankings.

Given that the national economic outlook shows that the United States is still in a slow growth track since the recession, I only hope that what's happening in Metro Denver gives some inspiration that our nation will come out of this recession stronger and better than ever.

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About Tom Clark

Tom has over 30 years of economic development experience at the state, regional, and local levels, spanning from Illinois to Colorado. He is known both for his quips and his candor. Often quoted in the local and national press on Metro Denver’s economy, his iPhone is his most valued possession next to his Les Paul guitar. He is also famous for writing parody songs, maintaining an orderly office, and funding the office swear jar. Tom says that if wasn’t an economic developer, his dream would be to work in a chocolate factory.

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About The Cone of Silence

Invented by Professor Cone from TV’s "Get Smart," the Cone of Silence was designed to protect the most secret of conversations by enshrouding its users within a transparent sound-proof shield. Unfortunately, from experience, we have also learned that it never works properly. This blog offers those outside our “Cone of Silence” a unique look at economic development in the region.

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