Jerry Kopel

Have the last six years (including 2005 to date) seemed like a rollercoaster ride on Colorado's economic stability?
If that's your feeling, it's pretty accurate according to the monthly Governing Magazine.
Each year, about this time, Governing Magazine (devoted to state, city, and county issues) publishes a "Sourcebook". Governing is a  subsidiary of Congressional Quarterly Inc.
Sourcebook compares the states on a large number of issues. As an example the issue of economic momentum averages the most recent one-year changes in employment, personal income and population. It relates each state's performance to the national average set at zero.
Economic Momentum
Colorado began the 21st century in high esteem, earning a press release from the office of Gov. Bill Owens. And Colorado economic momentum was worthy of boasting about. Then began a descent worthy of the Colorado Rockies present season.
But unlike the Rockies, Colorado's economic momentum is now climbing. Here are the top five states, plus Colorado when Colorado is not in the top five.
                   2000                         2001                             2002
           1.  Arizona                    Nevada                           New Mexico
           2. Nevada                     Colorado                         Alaska
          3.  Colorado                   Florida                           Montana
          4.   Washington              Texas                             Nevada
          5.  Florida                      Virginia                           Wyoming
                                                                        26th      Colorado
                2003                           2004                           2005
         1. Nevada                        Nevada                         Nevada 
         2. Hawaii                         South Dakota                Washington
        3.  Alaska                        North Dakota                 Arizona
         4. Arizona                       Wyoming                      Florida
         5. Florida                        Arizona                         Utah
      40th. Colorado            35th Colorado                10th Colorado
Nevada was first in four of the six years and in the top five all six years. Arizona and Florida rated in the top five in four of the six years.  (In 1999, Colorado was 9th.)
State Employees
You wouldn't expect a three-point jump shot from mid-court. And you wouldn't expect a major increase in the number of state employees during the Owens' administration, and you would be correct.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics as reported by Sourcebook, state employee adjusted numbers went from 78,200 at the start of 1999 to 85,100 thus far in 2005, close to a nine percent increase. There are 185 state employees per 10,000 population.
In a recent audit performance audit of the Dept.of Personnel, the number of state employees was stated at 31,500. So where are the other 53,600?
The state auditor only counted classified or certified employees. Employees in Higher Education, and seasonal or temporary or part time employees were not counted.
Local Government Employees
Colorado cities and counties increased their adjusted employee numbers from 191,800 at the end of 1998 to 231,600 in 2005. There are 503 employees per 10,000 population in 2005.
The combination of state and local employees is 316,700. Federal employees were not included in the survey.
More comparisons in next week's column.

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