Economic indicators in the Denver South region improved through the first quarter of the year with rising employment, falling unemployment rates, and an improving commercial real estate market. Employment in the Denver South region increased 3.3 percent in the fourth quarter of 2015 compared with the prior year, representing 7,150 additional jobs. Employment in 11 of the 13 supersectors increased over-the-year, with the construction sector reporting the largest over-the-year increase (+9.2 percent) and the mining and logging sector falling the furthest (-11.7 percent). Unemployment rates fell throughout the region, ranging from a 1.1 percentage point decline in Douglas County to 1.4 percentage point declines in Arapahoe and Denver counties.
Consumer confidence in the Mountain Region decreased between the first quarters of 2015 and 2016, falling 12.9 percent. Retail trade sales improved in the region between the third quarters of 2014 and 2015, with all four market areas recording over-the-year growth in sales. Highlands Ranch recorded the largest increase in sales during the period, rising 10 percent, while Centennial recorded the smallest increase in sales, rising 0.4 percent.
Residential real estate indicators were slightly negative during the first quarter of 2015. The region reported increases in foreclosures and in apartment vacancy rates during the first quarter, but reported increases in average home sales prices. Condominium and townhome sales in the area fell 2.6 percent during the first quarter of 2016 compared with the previous year, while single-family detached home sales rose 1.4 percent. The average apartment rental rate increased in five of the six Denver South submarkets, with rents ranging from $1,197 in the City and County of Denver-Far Southeast submarket to $1,507 in the Douglas County-North submarket.
Trends in the commercial real estate markets (office, industrial, flex, and retail) were positive in the Denver South region in the first quarter compared with the same time in 2015. The flex market reported the largest increase in the average lease rate, rising 9.2 percent to $11.17 per square foot. The industrial market reported the largest decline in the vacancy rate during the first quarter, falling 2.4 percentage points to 3 percent.
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