Metro Denver population and employment on the rise
Metro Denver’s population and employment continue to post steady growth, according to data compiled by the Metro Denver Economic Development Corporation (Metro Denver EDC) in its Monthly Economic Summary for January 2007.
Population growth in Colorado gained momentum from July 1, 2005 to July 1, 2006, pushing the state from the 11th fastest-growing state in 2005 to the eighth fastest-growing state in 2006. Colorado’s population increased 1.9% over the twelve-month period, rising to 4.75 million residents. The U.S. Census Bureau estimates natural increase contributed 38,538 residents to the state, while net international migration contributed 21,587 residents and net domestic migration (state-to-state) contributed 29,819 residents.
“Colorado’s rapid population growth demonstrates we have the jobs, the schools, the climate, and basically the over all high quality of life people are seeking,” said Tom Clark, executive vice president of the Metro Denver EDC.
Metro Denver employment levels are keeping up with the population growth. Year-to-date employment in Metro Denver is 1.9% ahead of 2005 employment levels compared to a 1.4% increase at the national level. Metro Denver’s unemployment rate decreased for the third consecutive month in November, falling to 4%, its lowest level in more than five years.
In more good news, Boulder topped Forbes.com’s latest list of the smartest metropolitan areas in the U.S. and the Fort Collins-Loveland area ranked seventh. The rankings considered the nation’s 200 largest metropolitan areas and used data from Sperling’s Best Places to determine the percentage of the population age 25 and over with at least a bachelor’s degree.
Metro Denver’s office market improved in 2006 according to the latest data from CoStar Realty Information, Inc. The direct vacancy rate fell from 13.3% in the fourth quarter of 2005 to 12.6% in the fourth quarter of 2006 even though developers added about 1.55 million square feet of office space to the seven-county region in 2006. The latest fourth quarter direct vacancy rate is the lowest it has been since third quarter 2002. The direct vacancy rate in the industrial category decreased from 7.8% fourth quarter of 2005 to 6.9% in the fourth quarter of 2006, representing Metro Denver’s lowest direct vacancy rate in more than three years.
Metro Denver’s residential housing market also improved when Colorado finally dropped the notorious title of first in foreclosures after eight consecutive months of landing at the top, according to California-based RealtyTrac’s latest report. Colorado’s foreclosure filings in November were down 10% from October while Nevada’s filings rose 12%, pushing Nevada into the top position.
A holiday blizzard in December 2006 brought between two and three feet of snow to Metro Denver, causing DIA to close for a record 45 hours. Consequently, DIA’s two largest carriers, United Airlines and Frontier Airlines, cancelled approximately 2,650 flights from the afternoon of Wednesday, Dec. 20 until noon Friday, Dec. 22. Flight cancellations resulted in millions of dollars of losses especially for DIA’s two largest carriers, which account for almost 80% of all the flights in and out of the airport.
However, October 2006 passenger traffic was up 12.2% over the same month last year despite a seasonal pattern decrease from September to October. Through the first ten months of the year, more than 40.3 million travelers passed through the airport. Year-to-date passenger traffic is up 10.5% in 2006 compared to the same ten-month period in 2005. DIA will likely set a record of nearly 50 million passengers in 2006, although December traffic projections will likely be below expectations due to the holiday blizzard.
The holiday shopping season tends to put pressure on consumer’s budgets but Metro Denver consumers will likely see some relief in their energy bills in January. Xcel Energy will lower natural gas prices 35% in January from the same month last year due to oversupply. January 2007 bills are also expected to be about 10% lower than December 2006 bills.
The most recent monthly economic data for Metro Denver reveals that seven of the 18 indicators moved in a positive direction for the month, down from nine last month. Annualized activity remained relatively stable with 14 economic variables posting positive changes for the year, down from 15 last month.
The Monthly Economic Summary provides a snapshot of metro area economic activity, as well as its relationship to national and regional economic trends.