Nearly three years after the start of the pandemic, Greeley is the only one of Colorado’s metro areas whose economy hasn’t fully recovered and the reason might be the same one for its previous robust growth — the oil and gas industry.
Overall, Colorado’s employment has rebounded and then some, reaching 117% of pre-pandemic levels in September and surpassing the U.S. recovery rate of 102%. But Greeley and the rest of Weld County has recovered just 57% of their pre-pandemic job levels.
Employment in the other six metro areas is higher than before the pandemic broke out in March 2020. Colorado Springs’ recovery rate is 123%, the state’s best.
“They have been slower to recover from the pandemic in terms of economic activity, in terms of jobs. I think that the impact of oil and gas as a major industry in northern Colorado is a contributing factor in their lagging recovery,” said Brian Lewandowski, executive director of the Business Research Division at the Leeds School of Business at the University of Colorado-Boulder.
Weld County is the epicenter of Colorado’s oil and gas production, and the industry’s build-back has been slower than other sectors. Factors range from global economic forces to the industry’s current business model to new state regulations.
The bottom line is that Colorado has thousands fewer oil and gas jobs than it did before COVID-19 spread across the world and halted or greatly constrained activity.
“Just prior to the pandemic, Weld County was really booming with oil and gas development,” said Don Warden, the county’s director of finance and administration. “They basically pretty much dropped to almost nothing there in the pandemic.”
Colorado Department of Labor and Employment statistics show 6,300 fewer mining and logging jobs than in February 2020, right before the pandemic hit. Roughly 80% of the jobs in the state’s mining and logging category are in oil and gas, said Ryan Gedney, senior economist at the state labor department.
— Full story via Judith Kohler, The Denver Post
Energy was a boon for Weld County before the pandemic. Is it now a drag on the area’s economy?
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