After suffering a blowout during the oil and gas downturn, Weld County’s economy is slowly working its way into a top position again for adding jobs.
Weld County ranked third for job growth among 346 large U.S. counties with a 5 percent annual gain in the third quarter of 2017, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Only Midland, Texas, an oil and gas boom town, and Elkhart, Ind., a hub for recreational vehicle manufacturing, did better.
Quarter after quarter in 2013 and across 2014, Weld County repeatedly led the country, and it had a robust 8.8 percent gain in the third quarter of 2014. Then oil prices cratered, drilling screeched to a halt and employers started shedding jobs.
Despite a well-diversified economy, Weld County kept dropping in the ranks, and within a year it went from first to nearly last at 331st.
But the county’s fortunes revived with oil prices in 2016 and 2017, even though producers need fewer workers to produce the same amount of oil and gas. With a little acceleration, Weld County could pass Elkhart. But passing Midland, a hub for drilling in the Permian Basin, will be much harder. Midland had job gains running at 10.4 percent in the third quarter.
After Weld, Adams County had the next highest rate of job gains in Colorado at 3.1 percent, ranking 22nd, followed by Larimer at 2.1 percent, ranking 54th nationally.