A report released Monday by the Metro Denver Economic Development Corporation showed Colorado slipping behind other states in some key economic metrics.
The report from the Metro Denver EDC, an arm of the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce, showcased annual rankings of Colorado’s business competitiveness nationally as well as how the state compares to nine key states, including Utah and Arizona.
The report shows that Colorado maintained its second place for most educated population, and third place for its concentration of high-tech workers. But in several other areas, the state took a nosedive. Those include:
Transportation funding, ranked 34 for total revenue per capita available for highway spending, down from 26th in 2016 and 2018
Employment, down by 134,000 jobs, taking the state’s rank for employment growth from sixth nationally to 17th
Research and development spending, which fell from top 10 to number 26 in the past two years
“Early-stage entrepreneurship” fell from 10th to 22nd
Education metrics ticked up slightly, with Colorado up to 42nd for its public high school graduation rate from a 46th-place ranking in 2015, the Metro Denver EDC said funding is “a position that requires attention from our K-12 education partners and public officials.”
The analysis, conducted by the Metro Denver EDC’s chief economist Patty Silverstein of Development Research Partners, looks at 30 core indicators and trends from interval years of 2010, 2015 and 2020.
“The indicators show that Colorado is still in a strong and economically competitive position, factors that will contribute to the state’s continued recovery. Indeed, Colorado achieved a top-10 ranking for 14 of the 30 indicators. However, Colorado’s rank relative to the other states declined in 14 of the 30 indicators this year compared to the prior year.”
Raymond Gonzales, president of the council, said in a statement that “talent and lifestyle continue to be our areas of excellence in Colorado. And while those selling points are key to our efforts to attract companies in 2022, particularly given the pandemic and workforce shortage, the real story here is where Colorado is starting to slip.”
Gonzales said that comes from policy.
“It’s worth recalling that earlier this fall, Colorado dropped from the 11th most business-friendly state to No. 29 in just one cycle of CNBC’s Top States for Business Rating. The Metro Denver EDC estimates that this decline is in large part due to our policy environment,” the statement said.
“We hear often from executives and site selectors who are concerned with where Colorado’s policy environment is headed. They are especially concerned with the increasing cost and regulatory burden of doing business here. Policy choices are being reflected now in data,” said J.J. Ament, president and CEO of the Denver Chamber. “We fully supported efforts related to addressing the pandemic. But we also need to articulate to policymakers at all levels of government how some of their policy choices are actually making the recovery harder — and slower — and less equitable for Colorado residents.”
The study also raised concerns about Colorado's housing market. Analysis found that while Metro Denver had the third lowest increase in median home price among the largest metro areas in each state from 2019 to 2020, the area still ranked as the nation’s fifth most expensive housing market.
The report findings, coupled with soaring housing costs and a shortage of workforce housing inventory are points of concern when it comes to Colorado’s competitiveness as a leading state in which to live and work, the EDC statement said.
“Housing inventory and cost continue to be a challenge for Colorado,” Silverstein added. “It’s unrealistic to think that a company would choose our community for relocation if their team can’t find or afford a place to live.”