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Colorado Economy

The United States has become a service economy and many states, Colorado included, generate most of their revenue through service industries. In fact, about 4/5 of the state's economy is derived from service industries.

The Colorado economy is divided roughly by the state's landscape. Farming activities are found in the flat eastern plains. Between the eastern plains and the western mountains, Colorado's urban areas are home to most services, and manufacturing activity. The Rocky Mountains, in the western part of the state provides numerous recreation areas and the state's numerous petroleum and coal deposits.


Colorado's agricultural production is domintated (75%) by livestock and livestock products, driven by the cattle industry. Over 60% of the state's agricultural revenues are provided by the growth of cattle and calves.

In terms of revenue generated, Colorado's top five agricultural products are cattle and calves, dairy products, corn for grain, greenhouse and nursery products, and hogs.


Cattle and calves are the driving force in Colorado's agricultural commodity marketplace and make the state a top-ten livestock producer. Colorado cattle graze on mountainsides and on the plains. Beef cattle are fattened in feedlots, mostly around Greeley, where they are fed grains and other feed of high food value.

Colorado farmers also profit from dairy products like milk.

Other livestock products include hogs, sheep, lambs, and chicken eggs.


Important field crops are wheat, corn and hay. Beans, grain sorghum, potatoes and sugar beets are also produced.

Apples are the leading fruit crop. Carnations are the most valuable of the greenhouse and nursery products.

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Manufacturers add value to raw products by creating manufactured items. For example, cotton cloth becomes more valuable than a boll of cotton through manufacturing processes.

Leading manufactured products are scientific instruments (medical instruments, devices for measuring electric current).

Computers and communications equipment are the leading types of machinery manufactured Colorado.

The state's food processing manufacturing industries (beer brewing, soft drink bottling, meat-packing, and production of animal feed), rank third.

Other manufactured products include electrical equipment (computer components, telephone equipment, television cameras), fabricated metals (metal doors), leather and leather products (luggage), and paper (newspaper and business forms).


Oil, coal, and natural gas are Colorado's chief mined products.

Other mined products include sand and gravel, gold, and molybdenum and, to a lesser degree, copper, lead, silver, and zinc, granite and limestone.


Service industries make up the largest portion of Colorado's gross state product. Community, business and personal services (private health care; hotels and ski resorts; and engineering, legal services, and software development) rank first.

Second is the finance, insurance and real estate industry. Denver is an important regional bank and finance hub.

Wholesale and retail trade services rank third, providing wholesale trade of automobiles, groceries and mined products with Denver serving as the distribution center for the Rocky Mountain region. Retail outlets include automobile dealerships, food stores and restaurants.


Duane A. Smith and John L. Dietz, "Colorado," World Book Online Americas Edition, <http://www.worldbookonline.com/wbol/wbPage/na/ar/co/124340>, August 14, 2001.

U.S. Department of Agriculture: National Agricultural Statistics Service, "Colorado State Agriculture Overview, 2004", 3 January 2006, (12 January 2006)

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