Mountain States

CU Report: Energy Plays Key Role in Colorado’s “Shining Star” Economy

A midyear economic update released by the University of Colorado Boulder Leeds School of Business shows Colorado “continues to outperform the U.S. economy and grow at a magnitude that slightly exceeds previous expectations.” Leading the way is the natural resources and mining industry, with a 10 percent growth rate. According to the report, that is a faster growth rate than any other economic sector in the state. The report also notes oil and natural gas are the natural gas and mining sector’s “most significant” products.

Leeds economists found that the natural resources and mining sector has been “integral” to Colorado’s economic recovery with job concentrations that are more than “two times the national concentration.” Additionally, these economists are revising their job growth forecast in the sector by an additional 2,100 jobs above the 2014 job creation that was forecast for the sector in December of last year.

“The growth for Colorado that we are forecasting for 2014 would make it the fourth fastest growing state in the country,” said Richard Wobbekind, an economist and the senior associate dean for academic programs at Leeds School of Business.

Wobbekind also said that “Colorado is growing at roughly twice the pace of the national economy in terms of job growth. It continues to be a shining star in the grand scheme of things, as it was in 2013.”

Colorado’s oil and gas industry is playing an important role in job creation and economic growth. The jobs tied to energy production are touching many other areas of our economy – from retail, home building, goods and services to tourism and recreation. In fact, the same team of researchers, at the request of Colorado’s Common Sense Policy Roundtable (CSPR), previously found that oil and gas jobs have an above average job-multiplier effect. CSPR Vice Chairman Buz Koelbel told the Pagosa Daily Post at the time:

“A small handful of industries are true pro-active job-creators. Many other sectors of the economy, such as real estate and retail, then create jobs in response to the resulting enhanced population and expanded disposable income.  There is simply no other industry with such a prolific and wide-spread positive effect on the economy of Colorado and the country,” said Buz Koelbel, Vice Chairman of CSPR.  “Additionally, expanded discoveries keep energy costs down, benefiting all of us.  Further, most products that we use on a daily basis have a petroleum base in their composition. One would be hard-pressed to find any more important industry in the country,” Koelbel continued.

The CSPR report is available here.

The findings of these reports help explain why Colorado’s business community has united to defeat the statewide anti-energy ballot measures proposed by millionaire Boulder Congressman Jared Polis. The state’s job creators are fighting these measures because they know the “ban fracking” agenda isn’t just anti-energy – it’s anti-business, anti-jobs and anti-growth. If Rep. Polis goes through with his plan to put these measures on the November ballot, he’ll be playing political games with an industry that supports more than 110,000 Colorado jobs, almost $30 billion of economic activity, $1.6 billion in tax revenue and energy bills 23 percent lower than the national average. With so much at stake for the Colorado economy and the state’s working families, it’s no wonder that Gov. John Hickenlooper (D) and his Republican challenger Bob Beauprez have called the political agenda behind the Polis measures “radical.”

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