Colorado forecast event: While growth could continue, plan for slowing

Patricia Silverstein
Patricia Silverstein
Alex Chausovsky
Alex Chausovsky

The economy is expected to continue to grow in Colorado, but business owners and managers also should prepare for slowing.

The situation is much the same on a national scale, although opportunities remain for businesses to succeed in a slower economy.

An economist and consulting advisor detailed their outlooks during an annual forecast event hosted by Vectra Bank Colorado.

“For business retention, it’s important to have not only a growth plan, but also a plan for if things slow down more than expected. In your own business, know what your own indicators are so you can shift and adjust as needed,” said Patricia Silverstein, president of Development Research Partners and chief economist of the Metro Denver Economic Development Corp.

Alex Chausovsky, director of speaking services for ITR Economics, agreed. Even in the event of slower growth, business conditions remain favorable.

More than 550 people attended the forecast event in Denver, while more than150 people watched a webcast.

The longest economic expansion in United States history is expected to last a little longer, Silverstein said. “We are 116 months into this expansion, and all indications show we will make it through this expansion at least through June.”

Some factors could present headwinds, Silverstein said, including slowing population growth, an aging population and rising housing prices.

Colorado ranks as the seventh fastest growing state with a 14 percent increase in those in prime working ages. But the population of those age 65 and older is expected to increase 61 percent, she said.

Rising housing prices also pose a challenge, particularly in the Denver metropolitan area. Since 2011, consumer prices and wages have increased 2.7 percent. But housing prices have risen 8.5 percent in the Denver area. With another 6 percent increase in prices expected for 2019, Boulder has become the seventh most expensive area in the country, Silverstein said.

Payrolls are expected to increase 50,000 in Colorado in 2019, she said, and many areas of the state surpass a national job growth rate of 1.6 percent — including Grand Junction.

Chausovsky said the national economy likely will experience slowing growth. “We are expecting a cyclical peak that is going to top out mid-year.”

The pace of slowing could depend in part on the effects of tariffs on trade, but business conditions should remain favorable, he said.

Bruce Alexander, president and chief executive officer of Vectra Bank, said the forecast event reinforced the likliehood the most successful business owners and managers will be those who become students of the economy. “The information presented today allows businesses to focus their own business indicators and differentiators to overcome a slow growth period effectively, learning how to take advantage of economic expansion first, while preparing for an economic retraction later.”

Speaker presentations and interviews from the Vectra Bank Colorado forecast event are available online at www.vectrabank.com/event