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ARCHIVED  January 1, 1998

Virtually all economic indicators point to growth

Virtually all economic indicators point to growth

The 1st Choice Bank/Northern Colorado Business Report Leading Economic Indicators point to positive economic growth, with almost every statistic showing increases or positive decreases. Unemployment has dipped to below 3 percent in many areas locally, while per capita income, retail sales and other sectors boom.

Skilled-labor demand to increase

Helen Taylor

Business Report Staff Writer
Dave Carson is all too familiar with the labor shortage in Northern Colorado. As president of CBW Automation in Fort Collins, he employs general laborers, machinists, welders, assemblers, engineers, programmers and office personnel, and finds that positions are hard to fill, especially shop and assembly jobs.
Larger companies with similar labor demands make the market tougher for smaller companies like his, he said, and rising labor costs threaten the company˜s bottom line. Carson said he˜s been feeling the effects of a tight labor market for some time and, according to the experts, it˜s not likely that the situation will improve in the coming year.
Gene Kane, consultant for Larimer County Employment and Job Training Service, reports that in 1998, the biggest factor affecting Northern Colorado companies˜ ability to grow will be a shortage of entry-level labor.
Employees in the $20,000 to $25,000 salary range will be hard to find, he said. And in spite of all that computerization has done to streamline production, growth is stymied without enough hour-to-hour workers.
Also expected to remain in short supply are employees qualified for high-skilled positions in the manufacturing sector.
"This isn˜t just Northern Colorado˜s concern, it˜s a national problem," Kane said. "But it hits this region particularly hard because 25 percent of Northern Colorado˜s industry and 36 percent of Larimer County˜s industry is in that sector."
Kane said the demand for workers with high-tech skills remains high in spite of dips in areas of the market. He gave as an example the dramatic jump in sales of a new line of personal calculators developed by Texas Instruments Inc., which helped manufacturers and electronic testing companies contend with a drop in the computer-chip market.
"Because the market has shifted, the reduction in chips hasn˜t had the anticipated impact," he said.
Dave Larson, an economist with the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment, says the demand for high-tech or computer related positions will be greater than it˜s ever been.
"I˜ve read that the demand for graduates with computer degrees is about 100,000 a year, and right now the universities are graduating 25,000 of those students a year," Larson said. "In order to meet the need, educators and students will have to shift their focus to that area. I think that shift has begun, but it may be difficult to move that many students in that direction."
Larson also predicts that the region˜s job market will stay plump with low-end retail, trade and service jobs, and as a result, those wages will rise somewhat, he said.
"Wages continue to be driven up because the supply of workers is short, but it seems that there is a ceiling for the low-end jobs," Larson said. "A worker at that level can leave one job for another, but he still won˜t improve his situation a lot."
Kane expects to see an increase in low-end wages in order to draw more students and women into full-time work. However, he said, when employers agree to pay more, they˜re more discriminating in who they employ — they want someone with experience.
For that reason, untrained welfare recipients moving into the work force may have trouble finding $6- and $7-an-hour jobs, Kane said.
Other trends Kane suspects will continue are job cuts at companies such as Eastman Kodak Co., that deal with international chemical exports and a slowdown in the proliferation of hotels in the region, which will affect construction jobs and new hires in the service industry.
"There will still be plenty of hiring in that area, but it will be more to replace people who leave, not to fill new jobs," he said.

Virtually all economic indicators point to growth

The 1st Choice Bank/Northern Colorado Business Report Leading Economic Indicators point to positive economic growth, with almost every statistic showing increases or positive decreases. Unemployment has dipped to below 3 percent in many areas locally, while per capita income, retail sales and other sectors boom.

Skilled-labor demand to increase

Helen Taylor

Business Report Staff Writer
Dave Carson is all too familiar with the labor shortage in Northern Colorado. As president of CBW Automation in Fort Collins, he employs general laborers, machinists, welders, assemblers, engineers, programmers and office personnel, and finds that positions are hard to fill,…

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