DENVER – Colorado’s economy continues to recover fairly quickly from the worst of the pandemic as a result of strong consumer activity, but disparities remain between various socioeconomic groups, and the delta variant and supply-chain issues are causing some uncertainty, according to forecasts released Tuesday.
Retail sales at hotels and restaurants exceeded February 2020 levels in June for the first time since the pandemic started, and while the accommodation and food services sector that comprises most of those jobs has gained back the most number of jobs lost during the pandemic, the industry is still lagging by 25,000 jobs compared to pre-pandemic levels, according to the September forecast released Tuesday by nonpartisan Legislative Council Staff (LCS) and presented to state lawmakers.
As Colorado Department of Labor and Employment officials said last week, the LCS presentation showed Colorado has gained back 78.1% of jobs lost since last March, but that recovery slowed slightly in August as the delta variant spread. However, Colorado has still seen the 15th-fastest recovery rate in the U.S., CDLE officials said.
The LCS forecasts $14.24 billion in General Fund revenues for FY20-21 and $15.11 billion in FY21-22 and the governor’s Office of State Planning and Budgeting (OSPB) is forecasting identical revenues for FY20-21 and a slightly higher amount for FY21-22 of $15.76 billion. The LCS forecast for FY20-21 was revised down by $96.1 million from June and the OSPB forecast was revised down by $182 million. Both FY21-22 forecasts were revised upward by more than $240 million.
Lawmakers and budget forecasters said the improving forecasts are buoyed by stimulus money from the federal and state government that have led to more consumer spending because of increased incomes for many Coloradans during the pandemic.
“Today’s strong forecast shows Colorado is roaring back. We are seeing a strong recovery in 2021 as more Coloradans get vaccinate and return to work but our economic success is tied to our public health so we continue to encourage Coloradans to get vaccinated to protect themselves, our economy, and jobs,” Gov. Jared Polis said in a statement. [ SEE The Ful article]