Colorado Springs Economy Improving, Slowly But Surely
We’ve had some good economic news in Colorado Springs lately. Mind you, it’s not great, but things are heading in the right direction.
Let’s start with the unemployment rate. The most current (and still preliminary) data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics indicated that the June unemployment rate was 6.7% . This is significantly better than the 8.1% shown for March. I’ll be a little happier when it gets back to 5%, which is what the government used to call full employment, but progress is progress.
The city reported in today’s Gazette that Colorado Springs Sales Tax collections were up 11.9% over July of 2013, and up 4.4% year to date. The city posts these reports monthly, (with significant lag), but in April we were behind 2013 YTD by .5%, so this is also a really good thing. The city funds a lot of it’s operations through the Sales and Use Tax, and city services (particularly roads in my book!) are a lot healthier if there is revenue.
Home prices are also reflecting a healthier economy. Although Year To Date Home Sales are very slightly below 2013, the average price in July was up 4% over 2013, which definitely indicates progress, since July of 2013 was up 8.8% over 2012.
There are also some intangibles. As a result of extremely hot and dry weather in the last 2 years, fires ravaged some areas of Colorado Springs. But in 2014, a much more normal, cooler and wetter pattern returned, and the fires are just a bad memory at this point. Cooler, wetter (and greener) weather is good for the water supply, winter snow pack (and ski conditions), white water rafting, agriculture, and just makes Colorado Springs an extremely pleasant place to live.
There are always some clouds on the horizon, and one of them is the ongoing review of the military of it’s bases. With 5 bases in here the Springs, it is always a concern, and this year the Army announced it is looking at Ft Carson as a place it might consider cutting. With almost 30,000 troops assigned to Ft Carson, it is always in the discussion, but in the past, cuts have usually ended up being made other places, and Ft Carson has often received troops who were assigned to other bases that are not as viable, so we’ll wait and see. Having troops at home instead of deployed in Afghanistan, Iraq and other places helps the local economy significantly, so a peaceful world (if there ever could be such a thing) is good for Colorado Springs.