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Are You Ready? Denver In Top 10 Of Fastest Growing U.S. Cities

Jim Hill
Wells Fargo Center, one the most recognizable features of the Denver skyline.

Metro Denver has jumped to No. 6 in Forbes' annual ranking of the 20 fastest growing cities in the nation.

That's up from No.16 in 2013.

According to Forbes, they rated the cities based on six metrics.

“Using data from Moody’s Analytics, we assessed the estimated rates of population growth for 2013 and 2014, year-over-year job growth for 2013, and the rate of gross metro product growth—a.k.a. the economic growth rate--for 2013. We also considered federal unemployment data and median salaries for local college-educated workers, courtesy of Payscale.com. The result is a list of the 20 fastest growing metro areas in America in terms of population and economy.”

America's 20 Fastest-Growing Cities of 2014

  1. Austin, Texas
  2. Raleigh, N.C.
  3. Phoenix, Ariz.
  4. Dallas, Texas
  5. Salt Lake City, Utah
  6. Denver, Colo.
  7. Ogden, Utah
  8. Charlotte, N.C.
  9. Orlando, Fla.
  10. Houston, Texas

Denver Metro Breakdown
Median Pay: $64,900
2013 Population Growth Rate: 1.75%
Unemployment Rate: 5.95%

Colorado may need to get used to population growth, and not just in the metro area.

As we've previously reported, the most recent forecast from the state demography office says more than 7.7 million people will call Colorado home by the year 2040 – an increase of nearly 3 million.

"Colorado is expected to add nearly 60,000 jobs in 2014."

The growth won't happen equally across all regions, though. The Denver-Boulder metro area will see the largest influx, with an increase of more than 1 million residents.

Northern Colorado also no stranger to growth in recent years – will likely see its population nearly double from current levels.

The north Front Range, defined geographically as Larimer and Weld counties, could see its population hit 1,054,000 by 2040, says state demographer Elizabeth Garner.

"A lot of the growth that’s forecast for that region is in Weld, and a lot of it is in southern Weld County. Weld is a very large county, it’s got a lot of open space, so it’s got the room for it,” Garner said.

“Currently prices for land are lower than places in the some of the Denver central metro area – and so that’s also an attractive piece, being able to purchase a home, buy land, at a price that’s maybe more affordable," Garner added.

Will The Economy Follow Or Lead Growth?

“The economy is becoming a little more boring, but don’t take that the wrong way,” said Jason Schrock, an economist with the Governor’s Office of State Planning and Budgeting. “Saying the economy is more boring is a good thing. We all know what it’s like to live in interesting times.”

Colorado is expected to add nearly 60,000 jobs in 2014. A quarterly revenue forecast from Dec. 2013 says Colorado’s economy is outperforming the rest of the country’s, primarily because many of the state’s industries such as energy, bio-tech and agriculture, which are doing well.

A recent University of Colorado Leeds School of Business forecast expects Colorado to be in the top five states for job growth.

Planning Ahead

With tighter budgets and fewer resources to allocate, it's difficult for communities to plan for something so far into the future. But state demographer Elizabeth Garner says, it's important to try to ensure everyone's on board with planning.

"Whether the growth comes today, tomorrow, or ten years from now, let's put the plan in place," she says.

"Let's talk about the 'what ifs' in case we have to do it tomorrow."

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