The Colorado Springs MSA has experienced fluctuations in the areas of economic production, employment, income and cost of living impacting their overall economic performance.

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Report summary:


Colorado Springs continues to draw people evidenced by the increase in population of the Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) by more than a third over the past two decades. 

Key Indicators

There are many factors to consider when assessing the vitality of a local economy. The quantitative measurements included in this section affect, and are affected by, many indicators throughout the report. The Colorado Springs Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) has experienced fluctuations in the areas of economic production, employment, income, and cost of living impacting their overall economic performance.

Click on an indicator to learn more about it! Be sure to use the infographics and additional resources for the full experience.

Economic Productivity

What Is This?

Gross Metropolitan Product (GMP) is a measure of the goods and services produced by labor and property in a community. It is the local version of Gross Domestic Product (GDP), which measures the economic output of a country. Per capita GMP is a measure of individual economic productivity for a community. It is calculated by dividing the GMP by the population of the community.

2 Bureau of Economic Analysis

Potential Actions

A robust assessment of the local economy would determine how well the current tourism/military/service industry economic base can support, sustain, and improve quality of life. It is likely that significant effort will be required to grow and attract high productivity jobs to achieve high levels of economic output without the need to build significantly more infrastructure.

Employer Size, Growth & GDP

What Is This?

Employer size looks at the average size of an employer in terms of employee headcount. Employment growth reflects the total number of new jobs created in a given period of time.

2010-2019 change in employer profile

4 U.S. Census Bureau

Potential Actions

Colorado Springs’ growth in small-to-mid-sized employers has outpaced the national average. However, growth in large employers has only matched the national average, while other peer communities have seen greater growth. (Note: This data does not include federal government employers). Colorado Springs has done well in attracting new employers over the past 20 years and has maintained an even mix of small to large employers.  However, Colorado Springs has very few nationally known large employers with significant, high paying jobs. This likely results in Colorado Springs wages being suppressed compared to that of peer communities. Attracting larger companies would be likely to drive up employee wages to keep pace with increased costs of living.

Employment & Population

What Is This?

Workforce participation is the proportion of the population that is working. It provides an alternative to traditional unemployment statistics that exclude people who are neither employed nor looking for a job.

6 Bureau of Economic Analysis, U.S. Census Bureau

The worker population shown above includes sole-proprietor work (such as those engaged part-time in the “gig” economy). Were these workers not counted, each community would drop further below the diagonal, with population growing faster than wage and salary employment.

Potential Actions

The Colorado Springs MSA would benefit from continued actions to support growth in job opportunities to maximize employment, economic output, and incomes. This would support a secure and enjoyable lifestyle for all residents and improve tax collections to fund infrastructure and regional amenities to enhance quality of life.

Employment by Industry

What Is This?

Employment by industry, reported by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, is calculated by using data collected by employers in all industry sectors in metropolitan and nonmetropolitan areas in every state and the District of Columbia.

How are we doing? Over the past two decades, we have seen substantial job increases as well as job reductions in the following sectors:

Display above only shows sectors with high job growth or loss.

Potential Actions

The data reflects that the Colorado Springs MSA has not experienced the strong employment growth of peer MSAs in the post-recessionary period. Continuing to diversify the employment base in the Colorado Springs MSA should be a priority, with an increased focus on the attraction and retention of technology and manufacturing industries.


What Is This?

The section on Productivity considered the total value of goods and services produced by a community (gross product). This section considers the income that local people derive from that production. Per capita income is calculated by taking the total income derived in a community and dividing it by the total number of people in the community. This includes all forms of income salaries, wages, social security, pensions, interest, and dividends but it excludes capital gains. Median household income is the income of the “typical” household—that is, equal numbers of households have more and less income.

10 Bureau of Labor Statistics

In all three categories, Colorado Springs ranked 4th of 6 peer communities. Median household income ranged from as low as $55,370 (Albuquerque) to as high as $87,476 (Boulder). Mean per capita income ranged from as low as $47,442 (Albuquerque) to as high as $79,649 (Boulder).

11 Bureau of Labor Statistics

Potential Actions

The recent growth in Colorado Springs is encouragement that it is on the right path.  Efforts taken in these years should be emulated moving forward.  Attracting better-paying jobs, particularly in technology and manufacturing, should be a priority for Colorado Springs, as should keeping restrictions reasonable for home-based businesses.

Cost of Living

What Is This?

Cost of living for a metropolitan statistical area is captured by the Regional Price Parities data collected by the Bureau of Economic Analysis.  Regional price parities (RPPs) are regional price levels expressed as a percentage of the overall national price level for a given year. The price levels are determined by the average prices paid by consumers for the mix of goods and services consumed in each community. Taking the ratio of RPPs shows the difference in price levels across communities.

13 Bureau of Economic Analysis

The following chart shows how the “typical” Colorado Springs resident’s income and spending changed—usually increasing—through the 2010s. Points above the diagonal show years when savings increased (or debt was reduced). Points below the diagonal show years when savings decreased (or debt increased). In 2020, as travel decreased and income uncertainty rose due to COVID-19, consumer spending declined significantly in Colorado Springs as well as nationally. In spite of job transitions, however, median personal income increased significantly during 2020, resulting in increased savings (or reduced debt) for many households.

Change in Income vs. Spending Chart Grapic

14 Bureau of Labor Statistics, Bureau of Economic Analysis

Ten years ago, Colorado Springs housing rental costs were virtually identical to the national average (101%). Regional costs increased significantly during the decade, and in 2020 rent in Colorado Springs was 16% more than the national average.

15 Bureau of Economic Analysis

Since 2020, housing prices have continued their steep incline, with the median price of a single-family home rising to $475,000 in March 2022, according to the Pikes Peak Association of Realtors—a 16% increase over the prior 12 months.16

Potential Actions

The HUD Office of Policy Development and Research noted that “land use policies and zoning regulations constrain the supply of affordable housing.”17 One response is the use of “by right” development to enable “timely completion of projects while also reducing regulatory expenses, thereby reducing development costs and encouraging the construction of less-expensive housing.”18 Additionally, zoning incentives can encourage development of affordable units in public transit corridors.19 Finally, the Affordable Housing Collaborative recommends the use of land trusts and community impact funds to enable private citizens, public entities, and nonprofit organizations to allocate surplus land and other resources for affordable housing, in partnership with for-profit and nonprofit developers.20

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The Peak Progress (QLI) Report is a community effort to look at and evaluate different components of quality of life in the Pikes Peak Region. This project convenes volunteers, community members, and leaders from across the region (Vision Councils) to gather and evaluate data and create goals (referred to as “priority areas”) in various categories.

This report originated in 2007 after Howard Brooks and Jerry Smith recognized the need for benchmarking information and gathered the necessary community support and resources to publish the first edition. The 2019/2020 report seeks to move the report forward by not only focusing on indicators, but also looking for ways to take these findings and create actionable change and improve the quality of life in the Pikes Peak Region. To do this, we followed the original process of creating benchmarks by comparing the Pikes Peak Region to other regions in order to see how we are doing compared to other places in the United States, as well as looking at data over time.

This report is for anyone from a general citizen to an elected representative. Based on the foundation of community groups, networks, and resources that were assembled to develop it, this highly beneficial tool provides reliable and easy to understand data with the potential and proposed steps for actionable change.