Colorado economic forecast for 2022 shines bright, with warnings | Company

Colorado is expected to recoup all of the jobs it lost during the pandemic this year, and many industries are poised to return to pre-pandemic levels of activity, economic forecast breakfast panelists say. of the Denver Metro South Chamber of Commerce on Friday.

“Most economic activity is returning or will return in 2022 to pre-pandemic levels,” said Henry Sobanet, senior vice chancellor of administration and government relations/chief financial officer at Colorado State University System.

“Four states – Utah, Texas, Idaho, Arizona – have recovered or exceeded pre-pandemic employment levels. This is partly due to significant immigration from higher cost states.

About 500 business and government officials attended the event at Marriott South in Park Meadows, hosted by The Denver Gazette.

Other panelists were Colorado state demographer Elizabeth Garner and Tuhin Halder, vice president of finance and chief financial officer for Comcast’s Mountain West region — who spoke about supply chain issues.

Panelists warned that there could be setbacks to a full recovery, including inflation, labor availability and morale, supply disruptions, housing affordability and the uncertainty related to the pandemic.

“It wasn’t the same pandemic for everyone, and it’s not the same recovery for everyone,” Sobonet said. “Planning policies and activities of all kinds must take this into account.”

“The big question for 2022 is will the economy open up and will we return to the services side of business, or will we stay home and continue to buy goods online?” Halder said.

“We have to be aware that these forecasts still carry a lot of risk,” Garner said.

Garner used 2020 US Census data for Colorado to show that immigration from the state is not as widespread as everyone seems to believe.

“If you were just looking at this image (slide showing population growth), looking back to 2010, you would definitely think we’re in a population boom,” Garner said. “But if you go back to 1990, you’d say, ‘Oh, we’re average.’ That’s why I’m going to encourage you all to watch your story, think about what you say and what you hear in terms of time perspective and in terms of (population) growth.

Colorado reached 5.77 million people, according to 2020 census data. It grew by 744,500 people, or 14.8%. Ninety-five percent of that growth occurred on the I-25 corridor, as opposed to 2000-2010 figures that showed 78 percent of the growth occurred on the Front Range, he said. she stated.

The growth rate peaked in 2015, and “every year in a row has seen a slowdown since then,” Garner said. There were actually more births (648,000) during this decade than net migration (445,000).

“So when you hear people flocking here, you should say ‘say what? ‘” she said.

Garner said businesses need to worry about losing Colorado’s youth.

“We’re getting full press from the states to get our kids,” Garner said. “They want butts in the seats and understand the correlation with that and economic development. If you place this child in a university, you have a very good chance of including it in your economy as well. So we have to worry about that.

“I’ve heard people say, ‘I’m absolutely sick of people coming here.’ But how can we hate the people coming and love the job growth It’s the job of all of you (business representatives in the audience) to help the message The narrative has to be that if you want to be conducive to job growth, you also need people to fill these positions.

Sobanet said he expects the “great letdown” to continue as households have more confidence in the stock market, home values ​​have risen and savings levels have risen.

The “dropout rate” from 2000 to today is the highest it has ever been, he said according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics.

“It’s absolutely brutal for an employer when a good employee leaves with the transition costs, the cost of hiring a replacement, the time it takes in lost productivity – but that’s the saving of market,” Sobonet said. “It’s capitalism.”

As for supply chain issues, Halder said it shows up in the weirdest places: like Starbucks running out of muffs and having to order two cups or people struggling to get windshields replaced. because manufacturers have shifted to making glass vaccine bottles.

“It’s a concoction of madness that got us to where we are, and we’re all paying for it,” Halder said. “People who are not in the workplace are causing bottlenecks in our ports and airports.”

Denver Gazette Business Reporter Dennis Huspeni served as moderator for Friday’s event.