Financially, 2003 was not a good year for many Coloradoans.
The latest numbers indicate, our state had the largest increase in bankruptcy filings in the country last year. 25,786 people filed for bankruptcy protection for themselves and their businesses. That's 4,500 more than in 2002, or a 21-percent increase.
Several bankruptcy lawyers blame the increase on Colorado's sluggish economy. A University of Colorado study shows the state lost 36,600 jobs last year.
Local economists do expect 2004 to bring better financial news for the Pikes Peak region. In fact, one UCCS professor says the downslide is over. But, not all job seekers believe they'll be collecting a paycheck soon.
"There aren't many opportunities out there, not for me." Mary Hafner says she's been looking for a job for 18 months after being laid off by AT & T. "I got an interview for a $7 an hour job. That's just unbelievable. When I first got laid off, I wouldn't even have considered a job at $7 an hour," she says.
But, Randy Ryan says he's optimistic that one of the resumes he has out will eventually turn into a job. "I feel productive. I don't know--it started a long time ago. I've been working since I was real young. It boosts my self esteem."
Both job seekers have turned to the Pikes Peak Workforce Center for help. Center employees say they have seen a slight increase in the number of job postings since October.
Fred Crowley is a professor at the University of Colorado-Colorado Springs. He says that trend will continue. "The most important thing we have to look forward to hopefully would be serious increases in the number of jobs."
He thinks the Colorado Springs tech sector will start to come back---bringing with it those $60,000 to $80,000-per-year jobs. "If we could see those jobs come back, slowly, but come back---that would be a phenomenal benefit to us."
Crowley also says indicators show a recovery is coming. That would be good news for those hit hardest by the downturn. "It's very frightening to be out there and feel I may never get a job again," says Hafner. "I woke up this morning ready to rock and roll. It's going to happen,” says Ryan.
Crowley also says the return of all of the Fort Carson soldiers will be a boost to the local economy. He says especially for the single soldiers---they've got a year of spending to do when they get home.