2020 Forecast: Colorado Is Getting Older and Narrowing the Housing Gap, But Really Needs Middle-Wage Jobs
Tamara Chuang, who covers business and economic issues for the Colorado Sun, recently wrote an article highlighting Colorado’s economic and population growth over the past decade.
Colorado’s population is expected to hit 5,842,076 people in 2020, an increase of 1.5 million people over the past 20 years.
Elizabeth Garner, Colorado’s state demographer, says that while the state’s population has grown and its economy diversified, there is still a lack of middle-wage jobs, which include high-paying blue collar or manufacturing jobs.
“But what’s interesting is that if you create mid-wage jobs, you create fewer low-wage jobs because their ability to spend is lower,” Garner said.
While mid-wage earners don’t eat out every night and spend less than high-wage earners, mid-wage jobs do provide opportunities for low-wage earners to move up the economic ladder.
With Colorado’s growth has come the need for more affordable housing. According to data from the Colorado Association of REALTORS, the media sales price of a single-family home in Denver was $490,000 in November 2019, up 7.3 % from November 2018. The number of homes for sale declined by 35.4% during the same period.
The state’s tight housing market is caused in part by younger first-time homebuyers competing with older homeowners looking to downsize.
“We hear a lot from the construction industry that it’s hard to bring anything in the (Denver) metro area under $400,000 with the permitting and stuff,” Richard Wobbekind, executive director of Leeds Business Research Division at the University of Colorado, said. “And I think that’s where the disconnect is coming from. The housing that’s available is more expensive than the wage levels of the people who can afford it.”
In 2000, the average cost to build a housing unit was $124,956. By 2018, that cost had increased to $240,001.