Denver – More resilient than we thought?

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We are all reading about layoffs in the papers, but over the last week, it seemed that almost every person I met with personally had either been laid off or was in a company in the midst of lay-offs. Some of the public ones in Denver include Sun, ULA, Western Union, Janus, Intrawest, and Aurora Loan Services. I know of layoffs completed or planned at a few smaller companies too, which did not hit the news and which I’m not at liberty to disclose here. Of course, these lay-offs aren’t constrained to Denver. Over the last week, I also talked to friends in Chicago, Dallas and Houston who are experiencing the same at their companies. This timing is not shocking. The financial crisis is hitting practically every industry by now and companies need to take action before the holidays. Based on the word on the street, you might wonder if Denver was faring worse than the rest of the country.

As last reported by the Rocky Mountain News and Denver Post, Denver’s October unemployment rate climbed a half a percent to 5.7%, but it is still almost a percent below the national average of 6.5%. I’m interested to see if the word on the street matches what’s reported in the papers, so I’ve been asking everyone looking how the job market feels. I would expect a dearth of jobs during a normally slow holiday season and an unusually slow hiring time due to the economy, but I was pleasantly surprised to hear from every person I asked that they are finding opportunities. They all said that while the job market is moving a little slower, there are definitely jobs out there for those who have the right skills.

While Denver is not immune, it is faring better than the country. Denver is a smaller market and has few large companies, which may be helping during these times. Denver was hit very hard by the Telecom/ Tech bubble earlier this decade and has since greatly diversified its industries since. While there continue to be a good supply of workers here since people want to live here, workers here are already more resourceful in finding jobs and in re-tooling precisely because they want to find a way to stay in town. I know it may get worse before it gets better, but I’m bullish on Denver in the long term.

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