The U.S. economy remains strong, with solid employment and output growth.
• Nationally, employment remains strong, despite slower than expected job growth in August. The non-seasonally adjusted data shows that an average of 215,000 jobs has been added each month through eight months. This means the U.S. will add about 2.5 million jobs this year.
• Output remains solid. The first Q2 estimate showed real GDP growth of 4.0%. That was revised upwards to 4.2%. It is possible the third estimate, due later this month, could be revised even higher to 5.0%.
• At the most recent FOMC meeting the Federal Reserve provided no surprises. Their stance on the economy indicates:
o The rate of inflation remains below target.
o Quantitative easing will come to an end.
o There is slack in the labor market.
o Interest rates will remain low in the near term; however, once rate increases begin they will accelerate faster than previously anticipated. It is likely rates will begin increasing in mid-2015.
• The outlook for construction is positive. Single family building permits have been flat; however the NAHB index shows that homebuilder sentiment is much stronger than the permits data. This suggests greater activity, and stronger data, will occur in the future.
• The unemployment rate, number of unemployed, and the number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits continue on a downward trend. The economy should remain healthy as long as fewer people are unemployed and an increasing number of Americans are working.
The performance of the Colorado economy is closely tied to changes in U.S. job and output growth. Since the end of the recession Colorado job growth has outperformed the U.S. because of its mix of industries. The state is on track to add jobs at an accelerated rate for the fourth consecutive year. Job growth this year will be about 3.0%.
• The extractive industries have been a major direct and indirect contributor to the job growth. As well, the extractive industries were responsible for about one-third of the state’s GDP growth in 2013. The extractive industries are important to the economies of about half the counties in the state. From a jobs perspective, the sector is small, but the number of workers will increase by at least 9% this year compared to 2013.
• So far this year, between 10% and 12% of the jobs added in Colorado are construction jobs. The number of jobs will increase by at least 6.5% compared to the same period last year. Growth in the sector might be constrained by a lack of trained workers in specialized construction occupations such as plumbers, HVAC workers, and electricians. The home and infrastructure subsectors also include distinct specialized occupations.
• Tourism has enjoyed a banner year in Colorado. It began with good snow and a strong ski season. The good snow season also meant plenty of water for mountain rafting and summer tourism activities. Special events, such as the USA Pro Challenge, and the lack of fires and flooding provided the foundation for a strong summer season. Leisure and hospitality job growth is poised to be at least 4.6% greater in 2014 than last year. The sector will be responsible for adding about 19% of the jobs in the state this year. The sector plays a significant part of the economy in all 64 counties.
• The healthcare sector will add more than 10,000 workers in 2014 and expand at a rate of more than 4.3%. The sector continues to face challenges finding workers in many occupations and in rural areas.
• The growth of the professional, scientific, and technical sector is important to the state because a portion of these companies are directly or indirectly a part of the state’s advanced technology sector. The lifestyle of Downtown Denver and Colorado is attracting millennials to jobs in these sectors. The growth of in the sector will be at a rate of about 4.5% in 2014. It is important to note that many of these occupations pay higher than average wages and the sector is adding jobs at an increasing rate.