A look at the Colorado economy after the slings and arrows of COVID

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DENVER (KDVR) — Slow or not, Colorado may yet reclaim its place at the top of the economic heap once the pandemic’s wounds heal.

According to the U.S News and World Report’s most recent rankings, Colorado was the No. 1 economy in the country based a mix of measurements including business environment, employment and growth from 2019.

Colorado’s pandemic experience mirrored the rest of the nation’s – a dramatic drop in the second quarter of 2020 after lockdowns and restrictions all but smothered economic productivity. At the lowest point, Colorado’s economy shrank an estimated 3.7%.

In Colorado’s case, the pandemic capped one of the longest and sharpest streaks of upward growth in state history. Between 2000 and 2019, Colorado’ real gross domestic product increased 52%.

That outpaced the U.S. overall GDP growth in the same timeframe. The U.S. GDP only grew 46% since 2000.

By the end of this cycle, Colorado was one of the country’s strongest-performing economies.

From 2018 to 2019 – just before the pandemic hit – Colorado’s GDP grew by 3.5%, from $341 billion to $353 billion.

That year the Centennial State had the fifth-highest growth among U.S. states.

When the pandemic’s restrictions hammered the economy here in Colorado, the economy began to slip, albeit more slowly than other states.

In the first quarter of 2020, the economy shrank 4.1%. The next quarter, it shrank 28.1%. In both, Colorado’s economic shrinkage was less significant than most.

The rebound, however, was also slower. All state economies has strong rebounds in the third quarter of 2020, but Colorado’s 30.1% growth was one of the nation’s slowest – possibly because the economy had weathered the storm better and did not have as much to recover.

Fourth quarter information is not yet available, but experts at the Leeds School of Business at University of Colorado Boulder and in the state budget office forecast the state may fully recover by late 2021.

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