Denver Lags Behind the State Average of Economic Recovery

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While Colorado’s taxable sales in 2021 have surpassed pre-pandemic levels, according to a new study from the Common Sense Institute, Denver County reported a decrease in taxable sales. 

After adjusting for inflation and population growth, taxable sales in 2021 surpassed those in 2019 by $6.8 billion according to the study – a 6.1% increase in 2021 compared to 2019. 

“Taxable sales are one gage of economic recovery and by that measure, Colorado has reached recovery. State and local sales tax revenue has grown well beyond pre-pandemic levels,” said Senior Economist at the Common Sense Institute, Steven Byers, in a press release.

But not all of Colorado’s counties have experienced equal recovery rates. Out of Colorado’s sixty-four counties, only three –  Lincoln, Cheyenne, and Jackson – recorded nominal decreases in taxable sales, according to the study. 

The seven counties in the Denver Metro Area reported an average of 6.9% growth after adjusting for population and inflation, except for Denver County, where the adjusted rate fell 8.5%.

While the entirety of the state has been faced with the fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic and a soaring inflation rate, Denver businesses face an additional hurdle: a spike in crime.

One business owner in downtown Denver adapted to the financial repercussions of crime by instituting a 1% fee on all his sales, which he refers to as the “Denver Crime Spike Fee,” according to a February article from CBS. 

 In 2020, the Denver Police Department received more reports of violent crimes than in the past 30 years, according to an article from Axios in September 2021. Violent crime in the city rose 14% between 2019 and 2020.  

While the study predicts sales will continue to increase, Byers cautioned that inflation and workforce shortages may curb Colorado’s economic growth. 

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