Labor statistics are officially confirming what we all know – Colorado’s population is on the rise, with newcomers lured by a strong job market.
By the end of 2017, Colorado had a record year with its fastest rate of growth in almost 20 years, according to the Colorado Department of Labor and Statistics.
Coloradans participating in the labor force increased 141,700 for the year, adding 5,100 nonfarm payroll jobs from November to December for a total of 2,671,500 jobs.
The increase was noticeable compared to the previous month when employers added 1,800 jobs. In fact, November’s gain was higher than the state’s 12-month average gain of 3,817 jobs, and higher than the previous four months average gain of 4,800, according to CDLE data.
By sector, most of November’s added jobs are private sector payroll jobs, which increased 4,300 and government increased 800. Average hourly earnings also rose, going from $26.93 to $28.09.
Even so, the state’s unemployment rate increased two-tenths of a percentage point from November to December to 3.1 percent. The rise in the unemployment rate correlated with an increase in the number of people actively participating in the labor force, which grew 14,800 over the month.
Colorado’s unemployment rate is still lower than the nation’s December rate of 4.1 percent, which declined from 4.7 percent from December 2016 to December 2017.
The biggest private sector job gains in November 2017 were in construction and education and health services, while over the course of the year, the largest private sector job gains were in professional and business services, leisure and hospitality, and construction.
The jobs added resulted in a 2 percent job growth rate, with Colorado outpacing the U.S. growth rate of 1.4 percent, as it has for the past seven years.
Colorado Department of Labor measures the unemployment rate, labor force, labor force participation, total employment and the number of unemployed is based on a survey of households. The total employment estimate derived from this survey is intended to measure the number of people employed.
All Colorado estimates from the establishment and household surveys, including greater geographic detail, are available at: http://www.colmigateway.com.
Estimates for all states and the nation are available at: http://www.bls.gov
It’s the same old story, but one we love to hear. Boulder County home sales closed 2017 with yet another increase over the previous year, despite ongoing low inventory, according to Ken Hotard, senior vice president of public affairs for the Boulder Area Realtor® Association.
“All in all, the year was positive. Sales increased moderately over 2016 in both single-family and attached residential housing,” says Hotard.
That’s saying a lot, since sales have increased in Boulder County for several years in a row and prices have increased significantly, while inventory levels never cease to become more challenging.
“The past several years have a pattern of similarity. It’s a sure sign that the demand for a home in Boulder County is strong and undeterred,” he says.
In fact, year-over-year increases in sales were only about 1 percent apart in each market category. Condominiums and townhomes lead with a 5.6 percent rise through December 2017 – 1508 homes sold vs. 1,428 through 2016 – while sales of single-family homes improved 4.4 percent for the year with 4,612 homes sold vs. 4,419.
Month-to-month sales of single-family homes were virtually unchanged, increasing .1 percent in December 2017 compared to November 2017 – 363 vs. 359 units. In the same period, sales of attached dwellings dropped 2.4 percent compared to the previous month – 120 units vs. 123.
Hotard says lack of inventory is a problem plaguing Boulder County that shows little sign of change in the near future.
Inventory of single-family homes dropped 28.3 percent in December compared to November—declining to 557 units from 777, while multi-family unit inventory decreased 5.5 percent—138 units versus 146—over the same period.
Adding to the inventory crunch, demographers say age is starting to catch up with Boulder County. State demographics show the size of the retired Baby Boomer age group will reach unprecedented levels in the coming years.
Experts say older people tend to move less and age in place. Hotard cautions the aging population could make the already tight housing inventory even tighter over the next decade.
Where might inventory easing come from? Hotard notes that Boulder city leaders are looking at land use policies that may bring some limited relief by making it easier to build Accessory Dwelling Units or Occupant Accessory Units. And there’s consideration being given to a targeted zoning change that would allow two homes to be built on larger lots where only one home currently stands.
None of these changes, though, will have the impact needed soon enough or large enough to negate the fact that many people who work in the city of Boulder will likely live somewhere else. Hotard believes that improved public regional transportation will be a needed component of our housing picture.
“We’re in the midst of a big shift,” says Hotard. “Boulder Valley used to be 25 square miles surrounded by reality. Now it’s 25 square miles surrounded by competition. That competition is in shopping, locations for businesses, housing and jobs.”
Housing start statistics show that building has increased in Eerie and the tri-towns of Dacono, Frederick and Firestone north of Boulder.
“Increasing inventory in these towns is helping to keep pricing in check in Boulder,” Hotard says of the competition. “Moderating prices is probably a good thing.”
But he remains confident that Boulder County holds strong as a place that people want to live. He expects 2018 to be another positive year in the area’s residential real estate, beginning with a strong first quarter. With interest rates expected to slowly rise, buyers will be motivated to move earlier in the year rather than later.
“As long as we have the beauty and quality of life Boulder County offers, people will want to live here.” And that means our real estate market will be rock solid.
Posted by Tom Kalinski Founder RE/MAX of Boulder on Friday, February 9th, 2018 at 11:57am.