Colorado should continue to enjoy robust job gains in 2014, after recapturing its pre-recession employment peak this year, according to a closely watched economic forecast released Monday.
Next year "will mark the second-best year of job growth in the past decade," said Richard Wobbekind, an economist with the University of Colorado's Leeds School of Business, which produces the Colorado Business Economic Outlook forecast.
Wobbekind predicts a gain of 61,300 nonfarm jobs in Colorado next year.
The state is on track to add 66,900 nonfarm jobs this year, the best showing since the 81,000 jobs added in 2000, and significantly more than the 42,100 net new jobs the 2013 Outlook originally called for a year ago.
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In 2014, hiring will be widespread across all industries and strong enough to rank Colorado among the top five states for job growth, Wobbekind said.
Professional and business services will add the largest number of jobs of any sector — 14,200 projected for a 3.8 percent increase.
The fastest rate of growth, 8.7 percent, will come in construction, which is expected to add 11,000 jobs fueled by a 14.8 percent jump in construction spending.
The information sector, which covers publishing and telecommunications, and the federal government are expected to reduce their payroll counts next year.
More robust hiring will push the state unemployment rate lower — from an average of 6.9 percent in 2013 to 6.4 percent in 2014.
The forecast calls for Colorado's population to grow 1.7 percent to 5.4 million, with most of the increases concentrated along the northern Front Range. Retail sales are projected to grow 5 percent in 2014, up from 4.2 percent this year. Consumer inflation is expected to drop to 2.1 percent, from 2.8 percent this year.
Implementation of the new federal health-care law, fights over federal spending and reduced Federal Reserve support for the economy represent possible headwinds next year.
But more than four years after the recovery officially started, it appears the state economy is finally on track.
"We believe Colorado is strongly poised for long-term economic growth," Wobbekind said.
Aldo Svaldi: 303-954-1410, email@example.com or twitter.com/aldosvaldi