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Colorado’s economy wrapped up 2021 in a position of strength despite ongoing inflationary pressure and the seemingly never-ending threat of COVID-19.

Nearly all economic indicators pointed in the right direction during the fourth quarter of last year and momentum is expected to continue into 2022, according to the latest Colorado Secretary of State Quarterly Business and Economic report released Thursday.

While the economy is “fraught with uncertainties and concerns,” Rich Wobbekind, associate dean and economist at the University of Colorado Boulder Leeds School of Business, said, “we’re moving in the right direction” in the fight against the Omicron variant, resulting in increased optimism.

CU’s Business Optimism Index was pegged at 58 ahead of the first quarter of the new year. A score of 50 is considered neutral and the index stood at a record low 29.7 in the first quarter of 2020 before hitting a record high of 67.3 in the third quarter of 2021.

The state added 152,000 jobs between December 2020 and December 2021, good for 5.8% growth.

A total of 35,625 new business entities were filed in the fourth quarter of 2021, and 157,828 in the full year, up 2.9% compared with 2020.

Still, new business filings fell 6.8% quarter-over-quarter in the most recent period, “suggesting increased strain on business conditions,” Wobbekind said.

The national consumer price index was up 7.1% year-over-year in December 2021, the highest monthly increase since June 1982, according to the report. Inflation rose 4.7% nationally last year.

Colorado home prices continued to surge in late 2021, up 20.8% year-over-year in the third quarter of last year.

Colorado’s gross domestic product is expected to grow by about 4% in the new year, but that’s of little comfort to those still struggling, Secretary of State Jenna Griswold said.

“GDP increases mean little to the family whose money doesn’t go as far at the grocery store as it used to,” she said.

This article was first published by BizWest, an independent news organization, and is published under a license agreement. © 2022 BizWest Media LLC.

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