ALL THAT GLITTERS: Why Colorado’s Economy Is Failing Under Hickenlooper

A toast to our neighboring states who actually know how to run an economy

The Left was out in full force on social media last week, touting what they want Coloradans to believe are great growth numbers.  Don’t get us wrong PeakNation™, we love seeing more Coloradans getting an opportunity to work hard to provide for their families, but we need to be careful and not settle for the swill Gov. John Hickenlooper is hocking right now.  We know Colorado has the people, resources, and spirit to lead this country in job growth and innovation, but we all know after these past four years, asking Hickenlooper to lead is like asking Hickenlooper not to drink a dog to climb a tree; it just ain’t going to happen.

Sure, the raw numbers looks good for Colorado’s economy: unemployment at 6%, 13K jobs gained in April.  But, when we look at the bigger picture, and especially when we compare ourselves to our neighbors—our most direct competitors—Colorado is mediocre is best, and, in all actuality, falling behind them.

Our Mountain West and Midwest brethren are absolutely crushing Colorado when it comes to unemployment rates.  To the north of us: Idaho 5%, Montana 4.8%, little brother Wyoming 3.7%; to the east of us: Nebraska 3.6%, Iowa 4.3%, Kansas 4.8%; to the south of us: Oklahoma 4.6%, Texas 5.2%; and, to the west of us: Utah 3.8%.  Among those listed of our neighboring states, only Texas is remotely close to us with their unemployment rate, and they’re still .8% better.  Every other state is at least a full percentage point better than us.

If we expand our view to include the entire country, Colorado’s unemployment rate sits at a pedestrian 6% while 25 other states have an unemployment rate below 6%.

Hickenlooper’s pro-business persona is nothing more than a slick façade that is masking his milquetoast mediocrity he is pulling the state down to.  Were it not for a booming oil and gas industry that Hickenlooper refuses to stick up for, Colorado would find its economic standing more on par with such Democratic dinosaur states like Illinois.  It’s time for a new governor who can actually lead Colorado’s dynamic economy to the top instead of just being another face in the crowd.


FOOD STAMPS 4EVER: Number of Coloradans on Food Stamps at All-Time High; No Sign of Decrease

Gov. John Hickenlooper likes to tout how well Coloradans have fared under his “artful” watch.  Coloradans are doing so well, in fact, that we register the highest level of food stamps in the state’s history. That’s sarcasm, folks.  Let us be clear. We don’t fault people for being on food stamps, but we want people to be so successful that they don’t need to be on public assistance.

From Complete Colorado:

According to data from the Colorado Department of Human services, the number of individuals receiving SNAP assistance has remained at over 500,000 for the last 15 consecutive months for which data is available (October 2012 to December 2013). Prior to October 2012, the number of individuals on SNAP in Colorado had never crossed the half-million mark.

We’re doing so, so “well” in Colorado, economically, that we’re actually leading all of the neighboring states in increase in food stamp enrollees through the period of 2009-2013 with a 59% increase.

Given this startling revelation, we have a quick #protip for Hick: When an elected official claims his state is doing well economically and the lowly people on the ground know better because they’re still struggling, repeating the lie doesn’t make their lives better.  It just makes politicians out of touch.  When Hick claims that Colorado was 4th in job creation in 2013, but the reality is that the state wasn’t, then Hick just looks like an idiot.

No charge for the free advice #TeamHick – but we are waiting for our ham sandwich, Max Potter.


FINE PRINT: Hickenlooper COS Celebrates 5,400 Colorado Workers So Frustrated They Stopped Trying to Find Work

As we saw from Governor John Hickenlooper in 2013, he’s much more concerned about cosmetics than substance.  The cosmetics of his folksy, everyday Joe, I’m a moderate because I didn’t run for office until I was 50! (but, been doing it for over a decade now! …but hey, did you know I owned a brewpub!) definitely doesn’t align with the substance of him presiding over one of the most leftist, liberal, progressive legislative sessions in Colorado history.  His chief-of-staff, Roxane White, just did him no favors in reinforcing that image.

New unemployment numbers just came out for Colorado and with the numbers being lower at 6.2% Roxane White, Hick’s COS, couldn’t wait to blast out a tweet trumpeting them.  Wethinks she might have wanted to read the article she linked to first.

Reading The Denver Business Journal article she links to, we can’t help but wonder if she never made it past the headlines to this particular point: continue…


FUZZY MATH: Colorado Loses Jobs, Unemployment Rate Still Goes Down

Don’t tell us PeakNation™ over the Christmas holiday you missed this recent report from the Mercatus Center at George Mason University; no worries, that’s why you have us.

While people all around the country have been touting the ever-lowering unemployment rates in their states—and who wouldn’t?  People able to provide for their families is a great thing!—the Mercatus Center took a look behind those numbers; unfortunately, all is not as well as it seems. From the report:

“The most widely cited sign of progress toward a healthy economy has been the declining unemployment rate; however, the fall in the unemployment rate has largely been due to a shrinking labor-force participation rate rather than strong job growth.

…In the two most recent jobs reports, the labor-force participation rate has been at its lowest levels in nearly 35 years. Further, the entire drop in the unemployment rate in 2013 so far—from 7.8 percent in December 2012 to 7.0 percent last month—has been from the decline in the labor force rather than from job growth.” [the Peak emphasis]

That’s at the national level, but things don’t look much better if we focus just on Colorado.  In fact, compared to May of 2013 (the peak of jobs in Colorado last year), we have lost almost 20,000 jobs since then.  Yet, at the same time Colorado’s unemployment rate dropped from 6.9% to 6.5%.  No wonder China is beating us at math.

As the Mercatus Center pointed out, our drop can be almost completely accounted for by workers leaving the workforce.  It doesn’t matter to the unemployment rate when you lose 20,000 jobs if over 30,000 people drop out of the labor participation force.  The end result is the same.

Then again, when you pass fake “job bills”, perhaps you just end up with fake jobs.  Thanks Speaker Ferrandino!


EMPLOYMENT SITUATION: Colorado Loses 4,300 Jobs

The monthly unemployment numbers came out on Friday, and they weren’t great. While unemployment rose in June and July, it remained pretty stagnant in August (it dropped .1%).  But, the number of people employed in Colorado dropped by 4,300 in August.  That’s not good.

Also interesting – private sector payroll employment decreased by 6,800 jobs and public sector jobs increased by 2,500. The total employment in Colorado now stands at 2,369,700, which remains lower than Colorado’s employment before the recession.

And yet, special interests in Colorado think this is the perfect time to raise taxes.  A quick tip to those in the corner office – it’s a terrible time to raise taxes.

While mega-corporations still have monopoly money with which to play, small businesses will bear the brunt of this tax increase because the majority of small businesses in Colorado are taxed as individuals.  This means that there will be fewer resources for small businesses to hire and compensate workers.  Further, many Coloradans are just starting to see a recovery in their paychecks.  And, now, Colorado liberals want to siphon that recovery into the great abyss of the state budget?

Let’s think about this one, Colorado Commits to Kids.  If Colorado Commits to Kids was really about the kids, it wouldn’t steal from their parents.


VULNERABLE: Andrews Rejects the Conventional Wisdom that Hickenlooper is Unstoppable

Over the weekend, Centennial Institute Director and former Colorado Senate President John Andrews published an op-ed in the Denver Post that called into question a sense of so-called inevitability about the re-election of liberal governor John Hickenlooper.

Andrews’ extensive article outlined a stinging litany of the governor’s broken promises, failed policies, and poor judgement.  And he didn’t even get to Hickenlooper’s support of disastrous legislation regarding anti-growth business policy, gun control, and impediments to the state’s promising oil and gas industry.

But Andrews did go straight after the governor on numerous issues that have been ignored by the headline-grabbing disasters of recent weeks:

  • His “still-TBD jobs creation plan”
  • High unemployment rate compared to regional peers (Colorado has the highest in the region outside of trainwrecks AZ and NV)
  • His proposal to raise the state income tax
  • Poor student performance and his reluctance to adopt pro-student policies that have proved successful in states such as Florida, Arizona, and Louisiana
  • Unacceptable traffic situations on I-25 and the roads leading to the mountains, and how that threatens to impact economic growth

During the last several months, Hickenlooper made a deliberate choice to align himself with the most extreme left wing of his party, which, when finally given control of both houses of the legislature and the governor’s mansion jammed through unpopular legislation that hampered economic growth, made things more difficult for job creators, and even make the state the punchline of pathetic jokes from coast to coast.

While social issues that had little impact to Colorado’s struggling middle class sucked most of the air out from under the dome this year, Hickenlooper’s incremental march towards more government dependency for a less well off Colorado continued with little resistance.  What Andrews laid out was just the tip of the iceberg for Hickenlooper’s hyper-partisan agenda.


CO’S BAND-AIDS: Nearly Half a Million Qualify for Obamacare Subsidies

A recent study by FamiliesUSA found that 466,000 people in Colorado will qualify for federal subsidies relating to Obamacare next year.  Of that population, 36% nationally are young adults aged 18-34 years old, which is virtually identical to the number of young adults who qualify in Colorado – 36.3%.

This all may sound well and good, but that 36% of young adults nationally and locally qualify for federal health care subsidies simply serves to mask a larger issue – the persistent unemployment in this age group.  A recent study by Bowling Green State University’s National Center for Family and Marriage Research found that unemployment among this age group increased 55% from 2006 through 2011.

At a time when entitlement spending (see Social Security and Medicare) has ballooned out of control, the federal government is proposing to bring a whole new generation of Americans under its generous wing.  The more troubling aspect to this march towards Obamacare is that the program inserts additional barriers between the consumer of the care and the person who pays for the care.  It’s this dichotomy that sends health care costs spiraling out of control.  From the FamiliesUSA study’s explanation of how this benefit works:

“When a person or family qualifies for a tax credit, the dollars from the credit will flow directly to the health plan in which the individual or family enrolls, offsetting the total cost of the family’s health insurance premiums for that plan.”

That families are struggling is not breaking news, but instead of adding government band-aids to each problem that arises, let’s start taking a look at the underlying causes of this struggle.


BETTER OFF? Jobs Down; CO’s Child Poverty Rate 2nd Fastest Growing in Nation

Coloradans have heard rumors for the past few months that our economy may be improving.  Unfortunately, it was just a rumor.  Two pieces of news recently surfaced that indicated Colorado as well as the nation is in an economic slump – the jobs report was dismal and Colorado’s child poverty rate is the second fastest-growing in the nation.

This morning, the U.S. jobs numbers were released by the Department of Labor and the number of new jobs added to the economy versus what was expected was a huge miss.  Nationally, it was expected that the economy would add 190,000 new jobs in March.  It added just 88,000.  Not even half.  While some publications blamed this trend on a “post-sequester world”, employers have said that they’re hesitant to hire because of government regulation and the cost of Obamacare, which continues to spiral out of control.

Perhaps the under-employment situation is not surprising to the sobering number of children who live in poverty in Colorado – the second fastest growing state in the union, said the Colorado Children’s Campaign.

According to its annual report, the rate of children living in poverty in the state skyrocketed from 10 percent in 2000 to 18 percent in 2011.  According to the press release, this increase represents an additional 113,000 children living in poverty.

The report, part of the Anne E. Casey Foundation’s national Kids County project, found that the rate of children living in poverty almost doubled between 2000 and 2011, to 18 percent from 10 percent, a trend experts say could get worse as the state slowly recovers from recent economic recessions.

While the Colorado Children’s Campaign noted that the state would “slowly recover”, the sad reality is that the Colorado legislature have focused on everything but jobs and the economy.  In fact, the Democrats are doing everything in their power to chase jobs from the state – from passing the high-capacity magazine ban, which killed several hundred jobs, to raising billions of dollars in new taxes on small businesses to killing pro-business legislation.  Coloradans and our children deserve better.


SMART CHOICE: Colorado Springs City Council Picks Jobs Over Enviro Jokers In Fracking Fight

Credit: Colorado Springs No Fracking FB page

The fracking fight came to Colorado Springs yesterday, and energy development won out over a radical environmentalist “mob” of about 20 people. In a 6-3 vote to allow exploratory drilling on private land in the Springs, the city council decided to not make the same mistake Longmont Councilman Brian Bagley and the Longmont City Council made by getting in bed with radical environmental wackjobs.

Reports the Colorado Springs Gazette‘s Ned Hunter:

Dave Gardner wore a green gas mask in front of City Hall Tuesday, hoping to encourage City Council members to vote against an ordinance that allows drilling for oil and natural gas within the city.

Gardner was among more than 30 people who showed up to present their views on the ordinance. More than half of the attendees spoke against it, but their efforts failed.

After more than six hours, council members voted 6-3 to approve a set of rules that would allow Ultra Resources, Hilcorp Energy Co. and other energy companies to drill exploratory and other wells within city limits. Council members Tim Leigh, Angela Dougan, Merv Bennett, Brandy Williams, Lisa Czelatdko, and Bernie Herpin voted in favor of the ordinance. Council members Jan Martin, Val Snider and Scott Hente voted against it. The ordinance must be voted on again at the council’s Dec. 11 meeting.

While the Gazette‘s reporter romanticizes the environmentalist protesters in his write up, giving short shrift to the majority supporters, the key takeaway is that the council ignored the radical environmental hysteria.



CULTURAL FIT: Colorado-Based Brewery Screens Job Candidates on Politics?

It’s tough enough to get a job these days, but Colorado-based New Belgium brewery, which produces the popular Fat Tire beer and others, gives job candidates one more hoop to jump through – a cultural fit.  This may sound ok on its face; however, the admission came in a Wall Street Journal article yesterday about the discussion of politics in the workplace.

Here’s the excerpt:

“In Colorado, executives  at New Belgium Brewing Co. have made their political views public. Indeed, CEO  Kim Jordan attended the Democratic Convention in Charlotte earlier this year.  Favored candidates have also been permitted to hold events at the brewery.

Still, “we try to be really careful to allow everyone to have their own  opinion,” says Jenn Vervier, the director of sustainability and strategic  planning at the 450-employee company. Because the company considers “cultural  fit” when hiring, she says, most staffers tend to agree on partisan issues.”

According to Wikipedia, which is always right (or rightish), employment discrimination is discrimination in hiring, promotion, job assignment, termination, and compensation. It includes various types of harassment. Many jurisdictions prohibit some types of employment discrimination, often by forbidding discrimination based on certain traits (“protected categories”).

Protected categories may include: race or color, ethnicity or national origin, sex or gender, pregnancy, religion or creed, political affiliation, language abilities, citizenship, disability or medical condition, age, sexual orientation, gender identity, and marital status.

We’ve certainly worked in environments in which “cultural fit” is important, but cultural fit is typically embodied by qualities like “self-starter”, “innovative”, “entreprenurial”.  Not screening for political affiliation.

So, did (does?) New Belgium commit employment discrimination in considering “cultural fit” that allows most staffers to “agree on partisan issues” when hiring?  Does this impact your willingness to purchase New Belgium products?

Perhaps this is just another chapter in the tolerance of the left.

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