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1/10/2013 Forum Trending

SCEDD – the Southern Colorado Economic Development District – has created a rather detailed demographic profile of the 12 counties it serves in southeastern Colorado, Custer County being among them.

There’s no question that our region took a fairly substantial economic hit during the recession which, according to SCEDD, ran from 2007 through 2009. But using the most recent data it could get its hands on, SCEDD shows that there are some signs of a rebound:

--Average weekly wages here for the most part are at an all-time high. Those in the construction industry average more than $800 per week, up from $500 in 2005. Retail workers make in the mid-$400s, and most sectors – agriculture, construction, professional services and the arts – show stabilized or steady growth in the number of jobs filled. (Some 264 in construction compared to a high of 290 ten years ago; ag steady at 144; the arts at an all-time high of 90.)

--Our population growth, too, is rebounding with a three percent increase noted in 2011. While nowhere near the high of 12 percent in 1994, it’s rebounded from net losses in 2000 and 2006.

 --Custer County’s “stress index” is the lowest in the Upper Arkansas Valley. The figures are based on a county’s overall unemployment, foreclosure and bankruptcy rates.

--Retail sales continue to show slow but steady increases.

--Though a full eight percent of our population utilizes federal food stamps, that’s down considerably from 12 percent in 1991, though up from four percent in the early 2000s. And median household income here, which is close to $50,000, shows a generally steady increase over the past 40 years.

We still have families here that are underemployed and perhaps overwhelmed by the vagaries of the economy. But if long-term trends are any indication, we’re definitely heading in the right direction.giat neque incassum dolore.