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8/29/2004

Metro job growth evens

By John Fryar
The Daily Times-Call

DENVER — Employment appears to have stabilized in the Denver metropolitan region after consecutive years of job losses, according to Josh Harwood, a state legislative staff economist.

Harwood said in a recent report that during the first six months of 2004, the metro region — including Denver, Boulder, Broomfield, Adams, Arapahoe, Douglas and Jefferson counties — had a 0.0 percent rate of job growth in comparison with the first half of 2003.

However, the region experienced a negative-3.1 percent employment growth in calendar 2002 and a minus-2.3 percent job growth in calendar 2003, Harwood noted.

Harwood said the improved metropolitan-area economy “is yielding significant increases in retail trade sales,” which were up 2.5 percent through May 2004.

He said the construction industry also was rebounding in the metro counties, with housing permits up 27.4 percent through June 2004 compared with the first six months of 2003.

Nonresidential construction values have increased by more than 20 percent in comparison to a year ago, Harwood said, with both residential and nonresidential construction coming off two years of roughly 20 percent annual declines.

Meanwhile, another of the Legislature’s staff economists said in a separate report that Larimer and Weld counties’ economies are rebounding.

Economist Natalie Mullis said the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment reports that employment “is beginning to improve in Larimer County” and “is increasing at a healthy rate” in Weld County.

For the first six months of this year, Larimer County had a 1.3 percent employment growth rate and Weld County had a 3.7 percent rate, Mullis reported recently in the Legislature’s “Colorado Economic Chronicle” August newsletter.

During that same period, retail trade increased by 3.8 percent in Larimer County and 14.7 percent in Weld County in comparison with the first half of 2003, Mullis said.

“Meanwhile, both counties have experienced a substantial rebound in residential and nonresidential construction during the first half of 2004 after two years of shrinking or flat activity,” Mullis said.

Mullis’ report about the economy of the state’s northern region said housing permits in Larimer County grew by 19.8 percent during the first half of 2004 compared to the first six months of 2003. Weld’s housing-permit activity grew by 27.6 percent in that comparison period.

From January through June 2004, the value of nonresidential construction in Larimer County increased by 39.5 percent compared to the first six months of 2003. Nonresidential construction in Weld County grew by 81.8 percent during the same period.

From January through May 2004, Larimer County’s residential trade sales grew by 3.8 percent compared with the first five months of 2003, while Weld County’s residential trade sales grew by 14.7 percent.