2014 Economic Update: Job gains, housing market fuel economic growth

October 2, 2014

DENVER - Thursday, Oct. 2, 2014 -  Metro Denver job growth so far in 2014 has surpassed both Colorado and the nation, according to a 2014 Economic Update report released today by the Metro Denver Economic Development Corporation (Metro Denver EDC). The full report can be viewed and accessed here.

The 2014 Economic Update report includes national, state, and regional projections in key economic indicators such as employment, unemployment, retail sales, home sales/costs/construction, and commercial real estate.

According to Patty Silverstein, author of the forecast and chief economist for the Metro Denver EDC, the region is on target to add 46,000 new jobs in 2014, for an estimated annual job growth rate of 3.2 percent, compared to 3 percent for Colorado and 1.8 percent nationally. In Silverstein's 2014 Economic Forecast in February, she estimated 2.7 percent job growth in 2014.

“Growing companies and national economy experts are certainly watching Metro Denver and its economic growth,” said Silverstein. “Metro Denver has achieved a stronger and earlier economic recovery than many other metropolitan areas.”

Silverstein anticipates job growth to occur in 10 of the 11 supersectors. While all expanded in 2013, the information supersector posted slight job losses through the middle of 2014. Job growth has been the strongest in natural resources and construction, education and health services, professional and business services, and leisure and hospitality.

The report highlights several factors that are driving economic growth in the nine-county region:

  • Metro Denver’s housing market has been more stable than other markets nationwide, and recent statistics point to strong home sales growth and rising prices.
  • Metro Denver commercial real estate markets are also in a better position than markets elsewhere, partly because of sustained business interest and more restrained development prior to the downturn.
  • National media outlets have noticed Metro Denver’s economic prowess:
    • Forbes recently ranked Denver fourth and Fort Collins fifth in its “Best Places for Business” list for the cities’ diverse economy and significant outdoor recreational options that attract educated, young professionals.
    • WalletHub, a financial insights website, ranked Denver as the fourth most recovered city from the recession based on the number of new businesses, inflow of college-educated workers, and median household income.

Talent attraction and retention are major considerations in site selection decisions today, and Silverstein notes that Metro Denver is a highly desired location for Millennials (people born between 1980 and 1990), now the largest population group in the region, numbering just over 833,000.

“While the Generation X and Baby Boomers dominate the labor force today, Millennials are making their mark on the workforce and will represent the largest component of the labor force within 10 years,” explains Silverstein. “Metro Denver’s ability to attract and retain this key demographic will make the region a top choice for company relocations and expansions in the coming decade.”

Economic news is favorable statewide, as Colorado ranked No. 3 nationally for job growth in 2013, up from 40th in 2010, a year when most states were continuing to shed jobs.

However, employment growth has not been consistent across the state. Employment growth in Metro Denver has been strong and diverse, while energy activity in Larimer and Weld Counties has resulted in the fastest employment growth rates in the state. While most other areas of the state are performing better now than in 2013, employment growth has been at a fraction of the Metro Denver and Northern Colorado growth rates.

Additional highlights from the report:

  • Population in the seven-county Metro Denver area now tops 3 million people, with the population expanding by about 1.6 percent per year in 2013 and 2014.
  • Direct office vacancy fell to 10.8 percent in the second quarter, the lowest second quarter rate since 2001.
  • Home sales activity sizzled in Metro Denver in 2013, with an 18.6 percent increase in the number of existing homes trading hands compared with 2012. There were nearly 53,600 home sales in Metro Denver in 2013, the highest level of home sales on record.

2015 Economic Update
Metro Denver 2013 2014 2015 (e)
Annual Employment Growth Rate 3.6% 3.6% 3.3%
Average Annual Unemployment Rate 6.5% 4.8% 4.1%
Office Direct Vacancy Rate 11.3% 10.6% 9.6%
Industrial Direct Vacancy Rate 4.5% 3.7% 2.8%
Retail Direct Vacancy Rate 6% 5.6% 5%
Consumer Price Index Change - Denver-Boulder-Greeley 2.8% 2.8% 1.8%
Metro Denver Real Retail Trade Sales Growth 5.1% 4.1% 3.5%
Residential Home Sales (closed) 52,398 52,736 53,800
Residential Building Permits (single-family, detached) 7,396 8,396 9,270
Median Home Price $280,600 $310,200 $348,600
(e) = estimated

About the Metro Denver Economic Development Corporation
An affiliate of the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce, the Metro Denver Economic Development Corporation (Metro Denver EDC) is the nation's first regional economic development entity, bringing together more than 70 cities, counties, and economic development agencies in the nine-county Metro Denver and Northern Colorado area. The Metro Denver EDC focuses on six areas to expand the regional economy: national marketing, new and existing business, mobility, DIA/international flights, tax reform, and special opportunities. The organization also leads three industry-focused affiliates: the Colorado Energy Coalition, the Colorado Space Coalition, and the Metro Denver Aviation Coalition. For more information, see www.metrodenver.org.

Media contact: Janet Fritz - Director, Marketing and Technology, Metro Denver Economic Development Corp., 303.475.4194