February 5, 2015

Weld County Vulnerable If Oil Prices Remain Low, Wells Fargo Warns

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February 4, 2015 | Denver Post| Aldo Svaldi

Oil and gas production have bolstered and boomed economies from Bismarck to Boulder, but some areas will suffer more from the downturn in oil prices than others.  The Denver Post reports that Weld County in northeastern Colorado will be especially hard hit.  No surprise: Weld County is home to about 80% of the drilling operations in Colorado. In the second quarter of 2013, Weld County had the highest job growth rate of any of the country’s largest counties. Denver may suffer some financial pain as well as it is a business hub for oil and gas.

Still, Wells Fargo economist Mark Vitner predicts Colorado will weather the oil price downturn better than neighboring states because of its more diverse economy.  Only 1.2 percent of Colorado’s workforce is in oil and gas, whereas in North Dakota and Wyoming, more than 6 percent of workers depend on oil.

Where Weld County will be hurt most may be in the housing sector. According to the article, building permits in the county in 2013 tripled those of 2012.  An oversupply of housing could be a long term drain on the local economy:

“If the energy business does dry up, we may find that the multipliers on the downside are even larger than they were on the upside,” the Wells Fargo Securities report warned.