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 99,069 Boulder is Colorado’s 8th 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 119,371. (City of Boulder, Denver Regional Council of Governments, US Census)
  • Demographics: Boulder residents are generally young (median age – 28.4 vs. national median – 37.3) and highly educated (77% have bachelor’s degree+ vs. 29% 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 $57,112; the median family income is $113,681. Owner-occupied housing (52.1%) has a median value of $501,800. Renter-occupied housing (47.9%) has a median gross rent of $1,11/month. (2011 American Community Survey, US Census)
  • Employment & Job Growth: The area’s unemployment rate has remained lower than state and national rates (Oct 2011 – Boulder County: 5.7%, Colorado: 7.5%, US: 7.5%). There are an estimated 90,830 workers in the city of Boulder, excluding self-employed and contract labor.  The city has approximately 6,787 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 2012 Vacancy Rates in the city of Boulder averaged 10.1% for Office, 4.6% for Warehouse, 5.6% for R&D/Flex, and 4.6% for Retail space. Yearend 2011 average Vacancy Rates were 12.4% for Office, 6.6% for Warehouse, 7.7% for R&D/Flex, and 4.6% for Retail space in Boulder. (Newmark Knight Frank Frederick Ross 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 third quarter 2011 to 2012, Boulder MSA home values increased an average of 1.9%. (Federal Housing Finance Agency House Price Index)
  • Retail Sales: Retail sales continue to be strong in the city. Year to date retail sales in October 2012 are an estimated 2.3% higher than the previous year. (City of Boulder)
  • Venture Capital Investment: A high concentration of advanced technology industries has helped fuel venture capital in firms located in Boulder. Through third quarter 2012, $116 million was invested in Boulder companies, representing 25% of VC investment in the state. (PricewaterhouseCooper/Venture Economics/NVCA MoneyTree™ Report)

Download the following report for more detail.  Boulder Market Profile (PDF 208KB)

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