Dec 042009
 
Authors: Kirsten Silveira

Despite the troubled economy, one group of CSU economics students predicted Colorado would see an 88,000-job spike in 2010.

But, using the same information, another group predicted the state would experience a dramatic decline of 68,000 jobs.

The projections resulted from a semester-long study of statistical data in an economic forecasting class. Data for this year’s project came from a collection period spanning from 1992 to 2008.

Evan Rosenlieb, a junior economics major, said Colorado has a “very diverse” and strong range of employment opportunities, and the question is whether or not the state will follow national trends.

“Are we going to head the same way as the rest of the economy, or are we going to be able to bounce back?” he asked the audience during student presentations.

Officials from Larimer County Economic Development, the Colorado Demography Office, the Loveland Budget Office and other members the Loveland Citizens Finance Advisory Commission attended the presentation in addition to the business students and their professors.

In conducting the research, the economics class was split into groups to study smaller metropolitan statistical areas including Colorado Springs, Fort Collins/Loveland, Grand Junction and Boulder. The larger statistical areas, Denver/Aurora and the entire state of Colorado, were assigned to two groups to differently approach their projections.

The team that focused specifically on the Fort Collins/Loveland area found that projections for 2010 predicted a 4,650 decrease in available jobs, down 3.5 percent from 2009.

Ralph Trenary, a volunteer who sits on the Loveland Citizens Finance Advancement Commission, said his group focuses on making predictions from Loveland-specific data such as city expenses and revenue.

The presentation was useful, Trenary said, in exploring different techniques that could possibly aid the commission in advising elected decision makers and protecting Loveland taxpayers.

“(This research) is vitally important data in decision making,” he said. “The question is: Do we actually have something here that is useful?”

Enrique Martinez, a senior economics major, said the groups pulled information from the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics and other online statistic databases and then looked into each individual employment area.

The teams first used intuition to classify different job areas into what Martinez called “sectors,” then used the Pairwise Co-integration method, which compares the trends of the employment areas within the sectors.

The groupings are broken down into three different areas:

– Local Sectors, such as service and retail employment,

– Export Sectors, such as manufacturing and telecommunications, and

– National Variables, such as industrial production and energy prices.

Martinez gave the example of a sector containing construction, real estate and rental services and said these would be grouped together because the actual data seemed to move in the same trend lines.

“Different aggregation schemes provide different results,” Martinez said.

“We were flying by the seat of our pants and intuition. Using intuition we got these extreme positives and negatives.”

Senior Reporter Kirsten Silveira can be reached at news@collegian.com.

 Posted by at 3:15 pm

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