Survey: Colorado business leaders more confident heading into 2020

Richard Wobbekind

A measure of confidence among Colorado business leaders has rebounded heading into a new year, although uncertainty persists.

These results reflect the real business successes we’re seeing with the general uncertainty business owners feel going into the new year,” said Richard Wobbekind, executive director of the research division of the Leeds School of Business at the University of Colorado at Boulder.

The Leeds Business Confidence Index rose 3.9 points to 50.8 for the first quarter of 2020. Readings above 50 reflect more positive than negative responses. The gain ends a year-long slide.

“We expect Colorado’s population, employment, gross domestic product and income to keep growing in 2020,” Wobbekind said. “That should translate to Colorado’s economy continuing to outpace the nation.”

The division calculates the index based on the results of quarterly surveys of business leaders in a variety of industry sectors from across Colorado. For the first quarter, readings advanced for all six of the metrics the index tracks and moved above growth-neutral 50 for all but one of the metrics.

Confidence in the Colorado economy climbed to 51.5, 4.1 points higher than the third quarter and a half point higher than the first quarter of 2018. While 20.5 percent of business leaders responding to the latest survey expected moderate or strong increases in the economy, 65.4 percent anticipated no change and 14.1 percent forecast strong or moderate decreases.

Confidence in the national economy rose 7.4 points — the biggest gain among the metrics — but at 45.9 remained below growth-neutral 50.

Business leaders were most confident about sales. The reading climbed 2.8 points to 54.1. While 38.9 percent of leaders predicted increases, 38.9 percent expected no change and 22.2 percent anticipated decreases.

The reading for profits rose 2.4 points to 52.1 with 31.7 percent of leaders expecting increases, 44.9 percent no change and 23.5 percent decreases.

The reading for hiring gained 2.3 points to 50.6 with 28.6 percent of leaders predicting increases, 47.4 percent no change and 23.9 percent decreases.

The reading for capital expenditures rose 4.7 points to 50.6 with 29.9 percent of leaders forecasting increases, 46.2 percent no change and 23.9 percent decreases.