Economic forecast paints bleak picture for nation’s Glenwood Springs

As 2022 approaches, many are hoping for a return to normal, but economist Nathan Perry said the war in Ukraine could upend Garfield County’s economy for the third year in a row.

At the annual meeting of the Glenwood Springs Chamber Resort Association on March 9, Perry presented an economic forecast for Garfield County, explaining that global politics had a significant impact on the domestic economic front.

“The whole international financial system is unfolding,” Perry explained. “Ukraine changed the narrative.”

After inflation spiked in 2021, early forecast models predicted inflation could have held steady at around 4%, but as the Russia-Ukraine conflict drags into its fourth week, Perry said said inflation could continue to rise throughout the year.

“Inflation is going to be bad,” he said. “If this continues, we could see double-digit inflation this year.”

Closer to home, the job market is doing better in 2022, but it’s not great.

“Garfield County is doing well,” Perry said. “But not as good as other counties.”

Although the unemployment rate is down, the labor force is also weaker than pre-pandemic levels.

“It’s because so many people left the workforce during the pandemic,” Perry said.

According to data from the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, the United States experienced about 2.4 million “excessive retirements” and about 1.8 million women dropped out of the labor force in 2020.

Many people attribute the country’s current jobs crisis to increased unemployment benefits and stimulus packages, but Perry said that while both may be contributing factors, the problem still exists months after the end of these allowances.

While Colorado’s labor force participation rate is better than the national average, Garfield County was hit harder by the “Great Resignation” because the county’s population has a higher percentage of workers of retirement age. , did he declare.

Despite skyrocketing oil and gas prices, Garfield County’s rig count is two. If interest in the county’s oil and gas industry isn’t renewed in the next six months, Perry said he doesn’t expect it to recover in the near future.

The arts and entertainment sector provided forecasts with a silver lining after staging a significant recovery – returning to around 80% of levels seen in the fourth quarter of 2019, he said.

Following Perry’s presentation, Colorado Department of Labor and Employment spokeswoman Carolyn Tucker explained the challenges facing future labor markets.

In 2020, U.S. birth rates fell 4%, a downward trend that dates back to the 1960s, Tucker said.

More retirements and fewer babies could mean the labor force will continue to shrink for decades. To complicate matters further, skilled workers are harder to find every year.

“We’re facing a talent gap,” Tucker said. “We are seeing some of our local businesses that depend on a skilled workforce face some really tough decisions.

As the cost of living continues to rise, Perry and Tucker said the future of employment will likely mean higher salaries, retention bonuses and the use of new recruiting strategies.

Reporter Ike Fredregill can be reached at 970-384-9154 or by email at [email protected]