Colorado confidence index reflects “enthusiasm”

A quarterly index tracking confidence among Colorado business leaders has advanced for the first quarter of the new year, offering a promising start to what’s expected to be a year with increased sales, capital expenditures and hiring.

Rich Wobbekind

“There’s quite a bit of enthusiasm exhibited in this survey,” said Richard Wobbekind, executive director of the University of Colorado Leeds School of Business Research Division.

The Leeds Business Confidence Index rose more than seven points to 54.7 for the first quarter of 2012. The gain pushes the index past growth-neutral 50, reflecting positive expectations in the results of the latest survey of business leaders in the state.

“The first quarter index is much more positive than the fourth quarter index of 2011, and that’s obviously a good thing,” Wobbekind said. “It portends high levels of activity in all categories, including most importantly sales and profits and capital expenditures and hiring plans.”

Component readings increased for capital expenditures and hiring. While 30 percent of those responding to the survey said they plan to increase staffing in the coming quarter, 45 percent anticipated no changes. “You put these numbers together and that means that 75 percent of businesses are either planning to hire or remaining stable — they aren’t letting employees go,” Wobbekind said. “I think that’s very bullish in terms of the employment picture.”

The component reading for sales expectations rose more than seven points to 58.3, while the reading for profits climbed more than five points to 54.7. The reading measuring prospects for the Colorado economy jumped nearly 10 points to 58.4.