Index: Colorado business leaders upbeat

Rich Wobbekind
Rich Wobbekind

A quarterly measure of confidence among business leaders in Colorado continues to increase, in turn raising expectations for what could be record job growth in the state.

The University of Colorado reported that its Leeds Business Confidence Index rose more than a point to 61 going into the second quarter of the year. “Increased confidence comes on the heels of an improving labor market and sustained economic growth,” said Richard Wobbekind, executive director of the business research division at the Leeds School of Business. “Coupled with the data we examine from the Colorado secretary of state’s office, we expect further employment growth in 2014 reaching record levels.”

The index is based on the results of quarterly surveys of business leaders from across the state and a range of industry sectors. Readings above 50 indicate positive expectations for the coming quarter. With the latest gain, the index has increased for a record 10 consecutive quarters, surpassing the previous record set between 2003 and 2005.

For the second quarter, survey results were positive for each of six metrics the index tracks.

Confidence in the Colorado economy rose nearly two points to 66.7. More than 66 percent of the business leaders responding to the survey upon which the second quarter index was based expect the economy to expand, while 29 percent were neutral.

Confidence in the United States economy was nearly flat, edging up a tenth of a point  to 57.5. While 45.5 percent of business leaders said they expect the U.S. economy to grow, 38 percent remained neutral.

A component of the index tracking expectations for hiring during the second quarter rose three-tenths of a point to 59.6. Survey results were nearly split with 46.4 percent of leaders anticipating increased hiring and 43.5 percent neutral.

Over the past year, nonfarm payrolls in Colorado increased 65,300 with year-over-year gains in most metropolitan areas. Only Grand Junction and Colorado Springs have yet to return to pre-recession employment levels.

The reading for capital expenditures slipped four-tenths of a point, but remained positive at 58.6. While 43.2 percent of leaders expect to increase expenditures in the coming quarter, 46.4 percent were neutral.

The reading for profits increased the most for the second quarter, jumping more than three points to 61.3. Fully 56.2 percent of business leaders said they expects profits to increase, compared to 32.5 percent who were neutral.

The reading for sales rose 1.5 points to 62.7 with 59.4 percent of leaders anticipating increasing sales and 28 percent neutral.