Construction leads 7.4 percent job loss during 2008-09
Northwest Colorado experienced a 7.4 percent drop in the number of jobs in the region during 2008 and 2009, blunting the nine-year employment growth rate, state figures show.
The counties of Garfield, Mesa, Moffat, Rio Blanco and Routt lost more than 11,000 private-sector jobs during the period, according to the Colorado State Demographer’s regional socio-economic profile of the region.
Hardest hit in the loss of jobs during those two years was construction, which lost 4,200 jobs, or 21.5 percent of jobs in the sector, followed by 1,900 jobs lost in mining and utilities, or 18.3 percent.
Retail lost 1,500 jobs, or 8.7 percent, the report said.
Overall during the period, jobs grew at a 1.9 percent annual clip, the report says.
During the two-year period in which private-sector employment fell, public-sector jobs were on the increase, the report said.
Local governments in the region created 419 jobs, and federal and state government added 168 jobs, or increases of 3.2 percent and 2.9 percent, respectively. Health services and social assistance experienced increases of 133 jobs, or 1 percent.
By the end of 2009, the region had 139,000 jobs.
“I guess I’m not too surprised” at the findings, given the job losses in the natural gas industry of Mesa and Garfield counties in particular, said Reeves Brown, executive director of Club 20, the Western Slope lobbying and promotional organization.
“It just underscores the role of the coal industry to the region and the severity of the decline in natural gas.”
The report strikes an optimistic note in its forecast, anticipating the growth of 18,500 jobs from 2010 to 2015, or an annual average of 2.5 percent. From 2015 to 2025, the growth rate is expected to increase to 2.6 percent annually, the report says.
The adjacent region of Delta, Gunnison, Hinsdale, Montrose, Ouray and San Miguel counties experienced job growth of 1.1 percent annually to a total of 53,000 jobs by 2009, the report says.
That region experienced periods of job shrinkage, including a 0.6 percent decline from 2007 to 2008, and a 6 percent drop, or 3,400 jobs, from 2008 to 2009.
Construction suffered the heaviest loss, 1,200 jobs (18 percent), followed by retail, 517 jobs (8 percent), the report says.
Mesa remained the county with the most jobs in western Colorado at the end of 2009, with an estimated 76,000 jobs, followed by Garfield, 33,000; Montrose, 20,000; Routt, 18,500; Moffat, 7,100; Delta, 13,000; Gunnison, 11,000; San Miguel, 6,500; Rio Blanco, 4,200; Ouray, 2,600 and Hinsdale, 465.