CU dean: Good news, bad news for 2011

Colorado employment is predicted to grow by 0.5 percent or more in 2011, University of Colorado Leeds School of Business Associate Dean Richard Wobbekind said at Tuesday morning’s Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce breakfast.

That’s a difference of about 20,000 jobs. But before cracking the champagne, note that Wobbekind also predicts the state’s unemployment rate will increase by 0.6 percent to 8.8 percent next year. The difference amounts to net job growth of 10,100 positions in 2011.

Wobbekind predicts Mesa County will see further decreases in manufacturing and construction jobs in 2011, along with some year-over-year gains in natural gas extraction jobs. Education and health sectors will continue to be strong, and professional and business services, financial jobs, leisure and hospitality, and trade, transportation and utilities sectors are expected to grow jobs statewide in 2011.

Government jobs, which had mostly survived the recession, may take their first major hit this year at the local, state and federal levels as public budgets constrict, Wobbekind said.

A rise in retail consumption, a small bump in household wealth and the results so far in a survey of consumer confidence lead Wobbekind to believe confidence in the economy is on its way back up. To really boost confidence, he said people will have to see their laid-off friends get jobs and see fewer foreclosures occur in their neighborhoods — in other words, watch the recession’s damage wear off with their own eyes.

“The recession isn’t over for you and I,” mentally, until we see that, Wobbekind said.

Also at Tuesday’s Chamber gathering, 11 companies were recognized for adding a total of 275 new jobs locally and/or spending a total of $35 million on capital investments. Autopaychecks, Inc. was also recognized for reaching the third level of energy efficiency in the Chamber’s GreenBack$ program, which awards businesses that complete portions of checklists of items that make a business more energy efficient.


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