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Denver Small Business

Vectra Bank Colorado Small Business Index for Colorado
November 2010 Release

December 9, 2010

Written by Jeff Thredgold, President, Thredgold Economic Associates
Economic Consultant to Vectra Bank Colorado



  • The Vectra Bank Colorado Small Business Index for Colorado measured 105.8 in November 2010, up from a revised 103.6 in October 2010
  • Colorado’s unemployment rate was estimated at 8.4% in the latest month, up from the prior month’s 8.2% rate.  Total employment fell by 12,200 jobs during the past 12 months
  • Historically high unemployment rates within Colorado and the Intermountain area have contributed to weak retail sales growth, hurting the state’s and the region’s small businesses
  • The U.S. economy added an estimated 39,000 net new jobs in November, much worse than expectations of a 150,000 job rise.  The addition of 50,000 private sector jobs during the month was also much weaker than expected.  Better news saw job data of September and October revised to show 38,000 more jobs than initially reported.  The U.S. unemployment rate rose to 9.8% in November, following three consecutive months at 9.6%

Severe U.S. and global economic weakness during 2008 and much of 2009 pushed unemployment rates of states within the Intermountain area, as well as across the nation, sharply higher.  Much higher unemployment rates lead to lesser income creation, placing a damper on retail spending.  All 50 states had a higher unemployment rate at the end of 2009 than at the end of 2008.  All 50 states had fewer workers at the end of 2009, versus the end of 2008.

U.S. GDPThe Great Recession officially ran from December 2007 to June 2009, a period of 18 months.  It was the longest, the deepest, the most pervasive, and the most costly recession since the Great Depression.  The Great Recession, resulting initially from severe housing sector weakness and a freeze-up of domestic and global credit markets, ravaged employment across the nation.  U.S. job losses during 2008 and 2009 totaled more than eight million.

Unemployment rates within the Intermountain area are at the highest levels in a generation (see chart).  Such rates three years ago ranged between 2.5% and 4.5%.  A return of U.S. and global economic growth has now led Arizona, New Mexico, Wyoming, and Utah back to modest levels of net job creation during the most recent 12-month period.  Colorado and Idaho will soon likely transition to slight gains over the latest 12-month period, while Nevada continues to report job losses.   The unemployment rate in most states has risen during the past 12 months as news of better economic performance has led thousands of people to reenter the labor force in search of a job.  Unless and until they are hired, they are now counted as unemployed.

The Colorado unemployment rate and year-over-year gains or losses in employment are key components of the Colorado Small Business Index.  The economic performance of the region, the nation, and the global community are also components of the Index.

The Colorado unemployment rate—the most heavily weighted component of the Vectra Bank Colorado Small Business Index for Colorado—was estimated at 8.4% in the most recent month, up from the 8.2% rate of the prior month.  The 8.4% rate compares to the 7.5% rate 12 months ago.  A higher Colorado jobless rate is a positive contributor to the Index as it suggests increased access to labor for small businesses. Other associated factors typically tied to a higher unemployment rate, such as lesser job creation, lesser income gains and lower retail sales, pull the Index lower.

The state’s unemployment rate averaged 7.7% during 2009, 4.9% in 2008, 3.9% in 2007, and 4.4% in 2006.  Colorado’s jobless rate averaged 4.6% between 1990 and 2005.

The last 12 months have seen an estimated decline in Colorado employment of 12,200 jobs (down 0.5%), which compares to a revised loss of 20,700 jobs in the prior year-over-year period.  Colorado lost 106,300 jobs in 2009, added 19,000 jobs in 2008, added 52,200 jobs in 2007, and added 53,100 jobs in 2006.   

These job totals compare to gains averaging 46,500 net new jobs annually between 1990 and 2005.  More recently, job declines, leading to slower income creation and weaker retail sales, have had a negative impact upon Colorado small businesses…and therefore the Index.

The Vectra Bank Colorado Small Business Index for Colorado was 105.8 in November 2010, up from a revised 103.6 in October 2010.  The Index measures business conditions from the viewpoint of the Colorado small business owner or manager. 

A higher Index number is associated with more favorable business conditions for Colorado’s small businesses. The Index uses 100.0 for calendar year 1997 as its base year. The Index also includes revisions to various historical and new forecast components as they become available.

Colorado Small Business Index

The U.S. Department of Labor reported a net gain of 39,000 jobs in November 2010, much weaker than the 150,000 net gain expected.  The rise of 50,000 jobs in the private sector was also weaker than expectations.  Better news saw September and October job data revised to show the addition of 38,000 more jobs than originally reported. 

The U.S. unemployment rate rose to 9.8% in November, following three consecutive months at 9.6%.  The current 9.8% jobless rate compares to the 10.0% rate of one year ago and greatly exceeds the 6.9% rate of November 2008. 

Goods-producing employment fell by 15,000 jobs in November.  Manufacturing employment fell by 13,000 positions, while construction lost 5,000 jobs.  Mining and logging employment rose by 3,000 jobs.

Private-sector service-providing employment rose in November by 65,000 positions.  The professional & business services sector added 53,000 jobs, while the leisure & hospitality sector added 11,000 jobs.  The education & health services sector added 30,000 positions in November, while retail trade lost 28,000 jobs.  Overall government employment fell by 11,000 jobs during the month.

The U.S. economy suffered a net decline of 3.6 million jobs during 2008, the worst year since 1945.  The loss of 4.8 million jobs during 2009 easily surpassed the 2008 total.  The most recent recession was the first since the Great Depression to see all net job gains of the prior expansion eliminated.

The American economy has now added an estimated 951,000 net new jobs this year, or 86,000 per month.  Roughly 130,000 net new jobs need to be added monthly just to meet the needs of a rising population, and just to keep the unemployment rate stable.


The December 2010 Vectra Bank Colorado Small Business Index for Colorado will be released on January 13, 2011.

Jeff Thredgold
Thredgold Economic Associates
Economic Consultant to Vectra Bank Colorado

©Copyright 2010 Thredgold Economic Associates