Colorado’s largest metro ar­eas, with the ex­cep­tion of Colorado Springs, will see job and GDP growth slow this year.

The Denver Post - - FRONT PAGE - By Aldo Svaldi

Colorado’s largest metro ar­eas will see both job and GDP growth slow this year, with the ex­cep­tion of Colorado Springs, ac­cord­ing to an an­nual fore­cast from the U. S. Con­fer­ence of May­ors.

The Fort Collins area, which in­cludes all of Larimer County, will be the state’s top per­former, with metro GDP growth of 4 per­cent and job growth of 2.4 per­cent in 2016.

That­would rank Fort Collins 14th for eco­nomic growth and 47th for job growth among the 381 cities and metro ar­eas tracked in the fore­cast pre­pared by IHS Global Ser­vices.

Metro Den­ver will match Fort Collins with 2.4 per­cent job growth but will lag slightly with a 3.7 per­cent gain in its GDP. Den­ver ranks 54th for job growth and 27th for eco­nomic growth in the IHS fore­cast.

With its metro GDP pro­jected to reach $ 205.4 bil­lion, Den­ver’s econ­omy is nearly 13 times as large as Fort Collins’, which is at $ 16.2 bil­lion.

Gree­ley, whose metro area in­cludes all of Weld County, rep­re­sents an anom­aly — it will main­tain strong job gains in the face of a shrink­ing econ­omy.

Gree­ley is pro­jected to in­crease jobs at a 3

per­cent pace in 2016, the 15th- fastest rate na­tion­ally. But its metro GDP is ex­pected to shrink 0.2 per­cent on an in­fla­tion­ad­justed ba­sis this year, ac­cord­ing to IHS.

How is that? With oil and gas and other com­modi­ties, a drop in price can cause the value of out­put to drop even if the over­all vol­ume stays the same or rises.

De­spite the slump in oil and gas prices last year, Gree­ley added jobs at a 5.2 per­cent pace, the re­port es­ti­mates. That was third- best, be­hind Provo, Utah, and Cal­i­for­nia’s Sil­i­con Val­ley.

Many en­ergy firms have re­sisted let­ting go of work­ers as they hang on for a re­bound. Weld County has man­aged to win out over other ar­eas in the fight for shrink­ing drilling bud­gets.

But with oil prices bounc­ing around the $ 30 range, the ques­tions of how long that can con­tinue are on the rise.

Colorado Springs is the only metro area in the state ex­pected to see stronger job growth this year than last, to 1.6 per­cent from 1.4 per­cent.

GDP there is ex­pected to grow3 per­cent to $ 31.7 bil­lion. Pue­blo, to the south, also should grow GDP at a sim­i­lar pace, al­though its rate of job growth will slow to 1.1 per­cent from1.7 per­cent.

The worst- of- bothworlds award goes to Grand Junc­tion, which IHS pre­dicts will have some of the slow­est job and eco­nomic growth any­where in the coun­try this year.

The hub of the Western Slope re­gion will rank 272nd for job growth, with a mod­est 0.6 per­cent gain, down from 1.1 per­cent in 2015.

Things are even bleaker when it comes to GDP growth, which is ex­pected to in­crease a pal­try 0.4 per­cent. That would rank 360th, putting Grand Junc­tion on par both size- and per­for­mance­wise with Albany, Ga.

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