Record filings, lagging employment growth show mixed recovery for Colorado economy | CU Boulder Today

Panorama of the Denver skyline at night

Colorado business is leading in some areas but is lagging in others, according to a report released today by CU Boulder and Colorado Secretary of State Jena Griswold.

The Quarterly Business and Economic Indicators report is prepared by the Leeds Business Research Division (BRD) at CU Boulder in Conjunction with the Colorado Secretary of State’s Office. The latest report shows a record 44,740 new corporations, nonprofits and other entities filed initial documents with the Colorado Secretary of State’s Office in the first quarter of 2021.

First-quarter filings tend to record the highest numbers, but the 29.2% increase from the previous quarter demonstrates a spike beyond trend growth. Existing entity renewals also increased just slightly with 173,970 filings, a 1% increase year-over-year.

“Colorado is poised to make a full job recovery from the recession by 2022. But many Coloradans still are struggling from job loss due to COVID-19,” said Colorado Secretary of State Jena Griswold. “The state’s economy is building momentum, and I am hopeful that it will continue.”

Dissolution filings also reached a record-high 10,658 businesses in the first quarter of 2021, but the growth in dissolutions slowed. The spike in dissolutions during the last recession occurred after the official end of the recession in 2011.

Next for Colorado economy

While many industries have rebounded well from the recession, the leisure and hospitality sector continues to face challenges, accounting for 46% of jobs lost year-over-year. The BRD is projecting Colorado will add 90,000 jobs in 2021, with continued growth into 2022.

“This growth trend in the labor force could lead to a full jobs recovery from the recession in 2022,” said Richard Wobbekind, senior economist and faculty director of the Leeds Business Research Division. “But there are other statistics that show Colorado still has some progress to make in economic recovery.”

Colorado’s labor force growth ranked first in the country, and the state’s per capita personal income is 10th-highest at $63,123. However, at 6.4%, Colorado’s unemployment rate––0.4 percentage points higher than the national unemployment rate of 6%––ranks 34th, and the state’s average hourly wage growth rate ranks 46th. 

Improvement in the energy sector is also noted in the report: the number of rigs in Colorado increased from an average of 7 in December 2020 to 10 in April 2021. While this is significantly lower than an average of 30 rigs in 2019, the jump reflects a positive trend from recession lows.

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