Slow growth in Yampa Valley’s economic forecast

Retail sales up, unemployment down, home prices steady in Moffat County

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“It’s looking better, but, it’s really, really, really slow. Throughout the valley retail sales are up, unemployment is down, home prices are up a tiny bit, but that’s been holding stable for some time, so that’s all good news.”

Kate Nowak, executive director of Yampa Valley Data Partners, about the Yampa Valley’s fourth quarter economic forecast

A fourth quarter economic forecast predicts slow growth throughout the Yampa Valley, according to a recent report released by Yampa Valley Data Partners.

Kate Nowak, executive director of YVDP, said the short-term economic future in the valley is looking more positive than on the national level.

“It’s looking better, but, it’s really, really, really slow,” she said. “Throughout the valley retail sales are up, unemployment is down, home prices are up a tiny bit, but that’s been holding stable for some time, so that’s all good news.”

And Moffat County is maintaining pace with the rest of the Yampa Valley, Nowak said, particularly when comparing local unemployment rates to the national average.

“Unemployment is looking better” she said. “We’re lower than the national average, so that’s good. I just heard the national unemployment rate was reported to be under 8.0 percent and ours is 7.2 percent.”

In addition to declining unemployment rates, Nowak said Moffat County is on a slow upward trend in regards to median home prices and retail sales.

The median home listing price is $179,000 in Moffat County, up 2.8 percent in August when looking at month to month comparisons, according to the YVDP report.

Gross retail sales also are predicted to increase in October, November and December when compared to the same time period last year.

“Retail sales were up one percent in Oct. 2011 over 2010 and it’s looking like it’s going to be up 1.3 percent this year over last,” Nowak said. “I wouldn’t say it’s a nice increase, but at least it’s better than nothing.”

The most striking statistic in the YVDP report, Nowak said, pertains to Routt County’s self-employment rate.

According to the data, 25 percent of Routt County residents are self-employed, which is more than twice as high as both Moffat County and State of Colorado averages, 12 percent each, and two and a half times higher than 10 percent national average.

“Twenty years ago the self-employment rate in Moffat and Routt counties were similar,” the report states. “The growth of the self-employed in Routt County may be a reflection of the growth of location neutral businesses and their concentration in the area as a result of improved telecommunication capabilities and transportation options.”

Joe Moylan can be reached at 875-1794 or jmoylan@craigdailypress.com.

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