"Why are people still moving here?" Martin Shields, a regional economist at Colorado State University, is one of the analysts across the Front Range attempting to answer that question, as the state's unemployment rate continues to hover above the national average. Various theories exist and likely all contribute to the reasons Colorado's net migration has stayed positive (that is, more people have remained in the state than have left) during even the hardest-hit years of the Great Recession (Denver Post).
At the same time, net jobs over the past decade have been scarce, although there has been an uptick of 196,000 in self-employment. "Think if a fraction of these folks can take their business to the next level and hire one worker. We'd be able to overcome those 130,000 jobs lost in the last two years," says Patricia Silverstein, an economist with Development Research Partners.
Of Colorado's immigrants, about 180,000 are undocumented, according to two recent studies that review the economic impact of those in the country illegally. Overall, the Bell Policy Center finds, undocumented workers contribute more in taxes each year than the population costs the state in services (Colorado Independent).