Colorado economy to plod along in ’08 | AspenTimes.com

Colorado economy to plod along in ’08

Sandy Shore
The Associated Press
Aspen, CO Colorado

DENVER ” Colorado’s economy will plod along next year with a 1.9 percent increase in jobs largely in the service industries, although the troubled housing and credit markets could be obstacles, economists predicted Monday.

Uncertainty revolves around how much the state will be affected by adjustable rate mortgages shifting to higher rates, and developments in the credit markets and housing industry, University of Colorado economist Richard Wobbekind said.

“The Colorado economy seems to be going along at a pretty good clip and doesn’t seem that shaken by national events, so we think the impacts on Colorado’s economy will be more incremental if there is a national downturn,” he said in a statement.

The 2008 predictions mirror a trend of moderate, consistent growth, with 43,300 new jobs to put the total of nonagricultural jobs at 2.38 million, according to the 2008 Colorado Business Economic Outlook. Between 43,000 and 55,000 jobs have been created in each of the past four years.

Service-related businesses will remain strong with 43,300 positions created in professional and business services, leisure and hospitality, trade, health care and education, the economic report predicted.

The natural resources and mining sector, which includes energy-related jobs, will post a 20 percent increase or 5,000 jobs, putting the total at 29,800 for 2008. Those gains will be offset by about 5,000 jobs lost in construction and the long-troubled manufacturing industry.

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It will be the eighth consecutive year that manufacturing companies have eliminated jobs, with 4,000 expected to be cut in 2008, Wobbekind said. The industry, which consists largely of high-tech manufacturing, has been hurt by companies sending jobs overseas.

The energy boom has helped fuel an increase in professional and business services because of the need for support positions, contract engineers and similar jobs, Wobbekind said.

On a national level, job growth should be about 1.1 percent, he forecast.

It marks the 43rd annual outlook that has been compiled by the CU Leeds School of Business. More than 90 professionals from business, education and government participated in compiling the estimates.

The forecast was more optimistic than one issued in September by U.S. Bank regional economist Tucker Hart Adams, who predicted consumer struggles with housing and credit problems will hamper growth. She forecast a 0.5 percent increase in jobs for 2008.