Expect slow road to recovery, economic study by CU finds

Full economic recovery may be a ways off. But some areas of Mesa County took their first baby steps toward stability in 2011, according to an economic study released this month by the University of Colorado at Boulder Leeds School of Business.

The 47th Annual Colorado Business Economic Outlook 2012 reports average wages and severance tax revenue paid by energy companies in Mesa County increased in 2011 compared with 2010.

Meanwhile, foreclosure filings in the county decreased year-over-year and the local unemployment rate sank from a recession-era high of 11.9 percent in January to 8.5 percent in October.

Richard Wobbekind, executive director of Leeds’ Business Research Division, presented the study’s findings Monday at a Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce quarterly meeting at Grand Vista Hotel. Wobbekind said Grand Junction’s economy is a long way from where it was at the start of 2008. But 2011 was a step in the right direction.

“You had a tough 2009, but your 2010 was tougher,” he said.

Just because 2011 was better doesn’t mean it has been perfect. The report notes the local hotel room occupancy rate and the average hotel room price dipped in 2011 compared with the previous year and the average home sale price in the second quarter of 2011 was $71,500 below the average sale price in the second quarter of 2008.

Wobbekind predicted a 1 percent job growth rate next year in Colorado, which he called “painfully slow.”

“That’s the theme here: a slow road to recovery,” he said.

Wobbekind predicts small employment increases next year in government, construction, mining and logging, hospitality, health and education services, professional services and retail. Declines are expected in real estate and rental leasing, information, transportation and warehousing, finance and manufacturing.


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