Your longer commute to work hurts Colorado’s ‘economic well-being,’ analysts say

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Photo: Car commute

Those may sound like quality of life issues, but economists at one Colorado policy center say these trends also hurt the state’s economic health.

The Colorado Fiscal Institute will present its findings Friday at its annual forum.

Economists at CFI use commuting time, as well as 23 other indicators like crime and pollution, to come up with what they say is a more accurate measure of Colorado's economic well-being than GDP, which tracks transactions and economic activity.

The measure, called GPI or Genuine Progress Indicator, is not a substitute for GDP, though; it's meant to complement it. It has been developed by economists over the past 15-20 years.

CFI’s Chris Stiffler tells Colorado Matters host Ryan Warner that GDP can be an inadequate measurement because it treats all dollars equally. By contrast, GPI recognizes nuances in how dollars are spent: If a house burns down and is rebuilt, the money spent reconstructing it is positive under GDP, even though you're no better off than before the house burned down.

Maryland has adopted GPI as an official state measurement, and interest groups focused on environmental sustainability and economic inequality have introduced its use in other states. But Stiffler says GDP is also an inadequate measure for social conservatives concerned about the breakdown of the family, and fiscal conservatives concerned about long-term economic sustainability.

The full report is available here.