Every day we see and hear information about the global, national, state and local economies. It is difficult to determine what all this talk means to our city, region and us as citizens of Colorado Springs. Perhaps the short answer is “a lot”.
The Pikes Peak United Way has been publishing an extensive document called the “Quality of Life Indicators” since 2007 (http://www.ppunitedway.org/qli.html). One of the key indicators in the publication is “a growing and vibrant economy”. Many of the things we cherish today come in great part from a thriving economy: a job, a nice home, good schools, funding for arts and culture and taxes generated to invest in our community and infrastructure. In the 21st century, it is a vibrant economy that enables us to meet our work-life goals and helps raise the visibility and reputation of our region on the world stage.
The most recent QLI report shows that almost 40% of our local economy depends on government and military spending. We have lost tens of thousands of high-paying manufacturing and technology jobs and replaced them with jobs in government, healthcare and education. We have traded tax-generating jobs for tax-funded jobs.
The Colorado Springs Regional Business Alliance (http://www.coloradospringsbusinessalliance.com/) is the lead organization representing existing businesses as well as attracting new ones. The RBA is the result of a merger, in 2012, between the Chamber of Commerce and the Economic Development Corporation. The Business Alliance is the connection between business and government, business and business, and business and the workforce.
Employment numbers are one metric used in assessing the performance of a local economy. Unemployment numbers are another measurement but can be distorted by people leaving the workforce. These factors do not show the impact of under-employment where citizens must take jobs that do not utilize their full qualifications. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Colorado Springs currently has a 4.7% unemployment rate. Indications are that the economy is moving in a positive direction.