On the agriculture side, Colorado farmers and ranchers are coming off what is expected to be a record-setting year for net farm income. Colorado’s agricultural producers benefited from unexpectedly strong market prices for livestock and crops in 2011, leading to an estimated record net farm income in the state of $1.7 billion. Historic drought in Texas, Oklahoma and Kansas spared much of Colorado in 2011, leading to increased market prices for Colorado agricultural products.
“Mother Nature played a major part in this, and this year it played in our favor,” Wobbekind said, adding that Colorado agriculturalists also are expected to do well in 2012.
The manufacturing sector, after adding jobs in 2011 for the first time since 2003, will return to a long-term downward trend and is forecast to lose 1,900 jobs. Two other sectors expected to lose jobs are information, forecast to shed 500 jobs, and financial activities, losing 1,000 jobs.
In 2011, Colorado consumers spent more on goods and services, with retail sales increasing 6.5% for the year. In 2012, retail sales are forecast to remain relatively strong with a gain of 4%.
“We view the consumer as coming back to the table,” Wobbekind said. “Consumers have deferred a lot, including what we would call more necessary expenditures such as automobiles and other essential products that have been wearing out and need to be replaced.”
With 2011 coming to a close, Wobbekind said Colorado’s economy is ending the year on a positive note.
“We went into the year a little bit slow and then built up momentum for pretty much the entire year, and the last couple of months we’ve passed the national growth rate for jobs, and we’ll end the year above the national growth rate for jobs,” he said. “2011 was a decent year in which we added jobs in a fairly wide variety of sectors.”
Colorado’s unemployment rate for 2012 is expected to decrease from 8.7% at the end of 2011 to 8.4%, compared with a projected national unemployment rate of nearly 9%.
Colorado’s population is projected to grow 1.5%, or 75,900 people, next year.
Highlights of CU’s Construction-Sector Report
• 2011 will end with 111,100 industry jobs