Economy

Boulder has a diverse and heathly economy fueled by a concentration of brainpower that spurs achievement and innovation in all sectors. Industries with a significant presence in the area include aerospace, bioscience, data storage, light manufacturing, nanotechnology, natural and organic products, outdoor recreation, photonics, professional and scientific services, renewable energy and energy research, software, and tourism.

It’s easy to see why Boulder attracts top intellectual talent from around the world. The city is home to major federal labs, a world-class research university, visionary entrepreneurs, and the nation’s most highly educated population – in a setting that’s beautiful and offers an unmatched quality of life. This intellectual energy helps to stabilize and fuel the area’s economy.

Highlights of the area’s economy are summarized below.

  • Population & Growth: With an estimated population of 103,163 Boulder is Colorado’s 11th largest city. CU-Boulder students represent approx. 21% of the city’s population. Between 1990 and 2000, Boulder’s population increased an average of 1.6% a year. Since 2000, the city’s population has remained relatively stable. By 2035, the city is projected to grow to 114,025. (City of Boulder, Denver Regional Council of Governments, US Census)
  • Demographics: Boulder residents are generally young (median age – 27.7 vs. national median – 37.5) and highly educated (75% have bachelor’s degree vs. 30% of US adults). More than half (58% vs. 36% of US adults) are in managerial, professional or related occupations. The median household income for city of Boulder residents is $57,428; the median family income is $107,181. Owner-occupied housing (47.6%) has a median value of $500,700. Renter-occupied housing (53.2%) has a median gross rent of $1,213/month. (2013 American Community Survey, US Census)
  • Employment & Job Growth: The area’s unemployment rate has remained lower than state and national rates (September 2014 – Boulder County: 3.1%, Colorado: 4.0%, US: 5.7%). There are an estimated 94,000 workers in the city of Boulder, excluding self-employed and contract labor.  The city has approximately 7,000 employers; 96% have fewer than 50 employees. Industries with the highest number of employees: Government (including the University of Colorado and federal labs), Professional, Scientific and Technical services, Manufacturing, Accommodations and Food Services, Health Care, and Retail. (Colorado Department of Labor, US Census)
  • Commercial Real Estate: Third quarter 2014 vacancy rates in the city of Boulder averaged 6.5% for Office, 3.0% for Warehouse, 4.0% for R&D/Flex, and 5.1% for Retail space. (Newmark Grubb Knight Frank Boulder Market Reports)
  • Residential Real Estate:  Housing values have remained relatively stable in the Boulder area and the homes held their value better than the national average through the recession. From 2nd quarter 2013 to 2nd quarter 2014, Boulder MSA home values increased an average of 9.6%. (Federal Housing Finance Agency House Price Index)
  • Retail Sales: Retail sales continue to be strong in the city. Retail sales tax collections increased 4.8% in 2013 and are up 10% year-over-year through July 2014. (City of Boulder)
  • Venture Capital Investment: A high concentration of advanced technology industries has helped fuel venture capital in firms located in Boulder. In the first two quarters of 2014, firms located in the city of Boulder received $57 million in VC funding (22% of the total for Colorado companies) compared to $36 million in the first half of 2013 (19% of state total). (PricewaterhouseCooper/Venture Economics/NVCA MoneyTree™ Report)

Download the following report for more detail. 2014 Market Profile

(Photos courtesy of National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, University of Colorado, Macerich)