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Reports show meaningful economic growth in the region

Western Colorado - Colorado Mesa University's Department of Business offered good news for two of western Colorado's rural counties. "In the university's most recent quarterly economic reports, Delta County has had employment growth for the last three years, rising to 12,670 in 2015, 13,272 in 2016, 13,789 in 2017, and 14,381 in 2018,” said Perry. “Median household income in Delta County also increased in the same time period, reaching $45,528 in 2017.

Perry demonstrated that the two primary industries contributing to employment and wage growth are health care and construction. Health care contributed the most to wages, with construction coming in second.
“Health care and construction are responsible for 44% and 25% of new wages respectively, since late 2015,” said Perry. “These two sectors have also been the two biggest contributors to new employment during the same time frame.”

While the news since 2015 is generally good for Delta County, Perry explained the area has yet to recover from the 2008 real estate and energy boom, with Delta County being down 1,397 jobs since the economic heights a decade ago.

Montrose County also experienced significant good news in the quarter. Perry noted Montrose County had only a 3.6% unemployment rate, with “very strong growth in 2017 and 2018." The report revealed that median household income in 2017 reached $51,031, which is nearly eight thousand dollars per year more than in 2016.

“That is a really large increase in per household income for a single year,” said Perry. “Montrose has completely recovered from the previous decade’s downturn, with 1,211 more people employed now than in 2008."

Like Delta and Mesa Counties, Montrose County construction and health care have been the primary two contributors to the recovery and ongoing economic prosperity in Montrose County. The Montrose report showed that construction added 323 jobs and health care added 209 jobs. Both also combined for the biggest increases in wages.

The CMU economic report is an ongoing university analysis meant to track economic trends on a quarterly basis with the intent of supporting the needs of business, government, communities and university partners in planning for the future.

CMU President Tim Foster is one of the people who follows Dr. Perry’s quarterly economic reports.

“Dr. Perry is the only person on the West Slope doing unique economic analysis, at the academic level, that is truly specific to the local economy,” said Foster. “We are investing a lot in our health care related programs at CMU, and Dr. Perry's findings reinforce the wisdom in training future health care practitioners in the community. I am pleased this kind of economic research can be a service to CMU and the community.”

The full Delta and Montrose County reports can be reviewed at coloradomesa.edu/business/economic-newsletter

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Written by David Ludlam