Sep 10, 2022
By Tamara Chuang
But despite economic pessimism, many employers still hiring. Plus: Coloradans share why they’re working past age 65, space jobs and more
Colorado gasoline prices are nearly back down to where they were a year ago, but everything else is just not quite the same, is it?
There are still more than 120,000 jobs listed on the state’s job board even as new weekly jobless claims are still slightly higher than they were in 2019. Consumer prices, i.e., inflation, were up 8.2% in July from a year ago in the Denver metro area.
We’re in between official government economic reports on Colorado this week, but other organizations shared their findings.
A new hiring report from small business network Alignable found that 66% of 307 small businesses surveyed in Colorado believe they’re already in a recession. And 28% would, instead, call it a depression. The survey of more than 5,000 small businesses nationwide was more upbeat, with 57% believing we’re in a recession. (We’re still not officially in one).
“That means Colorado-based businesses are even more pessimistic about the state of the nation’s economy than their peers coast to coast,” said Chuck Casto, Alignable’s Head of Research.
However, the impact of how much of a threat a possible recession will have on operations appears much more optimistic in Colorado than elsewhere.
Check out these survey results:
63% of small businesses in the U.S. have put hiring on hold compared to 44% in Colorado.
28% of Colorado businesses said they’ve fully recovered and are seeing higher monthly income today compared to before COVID. In the U.S., 23% of businesses felt the same.
Colorado is aligned with U.S. averages for laying off workers, with 10% of small businesses surveyed planning to cut staff.
As other economists have chimed in in the past, some employers know how hard it was to hire people in the past two years. They’re not about to let them go now.
“A lot of companies that were looking for (skilled labor), they’re not in a hurry to lay people off because there’s so much effort and cost to bring them back when the economy starts to rebound,” said Steven Byers, senior economist with Common Sense Institute, a conservative think tank in Greenwood Village. “Right now, I think there’s so many job openings nationwide and in Colorado that I don’t see (hiring) dropping off.”
Who’s (older and still) working in Colorado?
The folks who took last week’s Labor Day poll dubbed “Who’s Working?” provided a glimpse into who’s still working, who isn’t and why. This is far from scientific but even a couple dozen responses shared the gamut of possibilities out there.
About half never stopped working during the disruptive year of 2020. And about half are still at the same job today. Overall, 85% have a job (some better, some worse) or are looking for one. The remaining 15% are retired or not looking.
No teenagers took the poll but several people between 65 and 74 years old and someone above 75 shared that they are working —- and they work to live.
“I am 69 years old and plan to work until something happens to make that impossible,” said Mickey Mann, who was laid off in 2007 by IBM and found it impossible to get rehired in technology “because of rampant ageism.”
He learned new skills and has been a self-employed tax accountant ever since.
“My clients don’t care how old I am,” Mann said, “and I would die of boredom if I retired.”
A few others retired early but had to “unretire” as rising costs got in the way.
“The stock market downturn has eaten a big hole in my ‘backup’ so I will continue to work as long as I’m able,” said Sara Sharpe, who lives in Grand Junction.
Sharpe had sold her bed and breakfast in Ouray in late 2019 with every intention of retiring and living off Social Security and her part-time catering business.
No one needed a caterer when the pandemic hit.
Sharpe got a part-time job at a medical garment factory and as places reopened, she returned to her business, Secret Garden Catering, which serves the Western Slope.
“Fortunately, folks still call me for parties and I am still able to work,” she said.
Ann E. appreciates the tenure at her job in higher education at a public school but wishes “it were easier for a 60-year-old to make the leap to a workplace that might both appreciate me and pay me more.”
A person between 55 and 64 who didn’t want their name used said they are “happily unemployed” though their situation sounds anxiety inducing. With no income, they’re qualified for Medicaid and living off savings, which will run out by 2024. But getting a job or even a part-time job would exceed Medicaid’s income allowance.
Matt, who lives in the mountains, pointed out that market wages haven’t kept up with market housing costs “so we are expected to work more to help a business owner make more while I’m already maxed out and barely getting by? There has to be a reckoning soon.”
Companies still hiring, including space jobs
Companies are also moving to and expanding in Colorado. In Colorado Springs, The Aerospace Corporation, which is one of those nonprofits that operates a federally funded research and development facility, unveiled its new 90,000-square-foot Space Warfighting Center just south of the Colorado Springs airport.
Don’t expect actual space wars to happen in the confines, but virtual design to develop “advanced space warfighting concepts,” according to the company, based in El Segundo, Calif.
There are already about 250 employees in the Denver and Colorado Springs region, according to a spokesperson. The plan is to hire another 250 workers for technical jobs at the new location. There are 87 openings right now for gigs like a Cyber Systems Engineer, Information Security Engineer and Astrodynamics and Space Tactics Analyst.
→ The Aerospace Corp. >> Job openings
→ Caliola in Colorado Springs was awarded a $3.9 million job-growth incentive tax credit from the state Office of Economic Development and International Trade. That means the technical services company will get the credit after it adds 372 new jobs with average pay of $165,076 over the next eight years. The company currently employs 42 people. >> Openings
→ Delta Solutions & Strategies plans to double its workforce in Colorado Springs to more than 300 after being awarded a $186.7 million contract from U.S. Space Command. The defense contractor also plans to expand its local hub and is searching for a new 10,000-square-foot office space. >> Openings
Other working bits
→ Colorado’s unemployment trust fund update. In the annual update on the health of the unemployment trust fund, the $1 billion federal loan borrowed to pay pandemic unemployment claims will be paid off by November. (It was at $33 million as of Sept. 7, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.) Meanwhile, the depleted trust fund will be refilled with $1.6 billion to $2.7 billion by the end of 2027 if the economy continues to grow. >> See report
→ Loans for startups that can’t get a loan. The state’s new Colorado Startup Loan Fund aims to help entrepreneurs who can’t get a traditional bank loan. The program has partnered with eight mission-driven lenders to provide loans of up to $150,000. An eligibility requirement: Applicants aren’t able to obtain traditional funding. Those lenders are B:Side Fund, Colorado Enterprise Fund, Community Enterprise Development Services (CEDS Finance), Exponential Impact (XI), First Southwest Community Fund, Lendistry, Region 9 Economic Development District and Rocky Mountain MicroFinance Institute. >> More info
→ Colorado tops the U.S. in car theft rates. Supply shortages, labor issues and inflation have created the most lopsided auto sales market in years. Low new-car inventory has some consumers splurging, while the more budget minded face the highest prices ever for used cars. And now this report from the Common Sense Institute in Greenwood Village: Colorado vehicle thefts expected to reach $1 billion in stolen vehicles (Colorado had the highest rate of vehicle thefts last year, reported Newsweek). >> Read CSI’s report
→ Starry Internet expands affordable broadband in Denver. Starry, which sells $15 monthly internet to Denver Housing Authority’s apartment residents, expanded its low-priced service to five more apartment complexes in Denver operated by Related Affordable. We’re waiting on location details but in an Denver Business Journal story from April 2018, Related Companies purchased four affordable-housing properties from Aimco that included apartments in Boulder and Arvada.>> Press release
Related: To get the $30 federal broadband discount, you must opt in. As reported earlier, the U.S. government is paying up to $30 on internet bills to low-income households through the Affordable Connectivity Program. But enrollment isn’t automatic. You may need to apply to the federal program and then with your ISP. >> Apply
→ State awarded grant to promote exports. Colorado’s Office of Economic Development and International Trade was awarded $500,000 from the Small Business Administration’s State Trade Expansion Program. The state agency, which has received nine of these grants before, said the money directly supports small businesses that are going global. According to the SBA, 87.5% of Colorado’s $7.8 billion in exports was done by small businesses. >> More
As always, share your two cents on how the economy is keeping you down or helping you up at cosun.co/heyww. See you next week! ~ tamara