Survey: Colorado business leaders more upbeat

Richard Wobbekind

Colorado business leaders are more upbeat heading into a new year, according to the latest results of a quarterly survey tracking their expectations for the economy, sales and other factors.

“While the Colorado and national economy will likely continue to struggle for many months, there seems to be reason for optimism in the year ahead,” said Richard Wobbekind, senior economist at the Leeds School of Business at the University of Colorado at Boulder.

The Leeds Business Confidence Index remained unchanged at 47.9 for the first quarter. Looking ahead to the second quarter, however, the index rose nearly 12 points higher. The index stood at 50.8 for the first quarter of 2020 and prior to the onset of the coronavirus pandemic in Colorado. Readings below 50 indicate more negative than positive responses.

Wobbekind said the latest survey results reflected the rollout of vaccines, although the effects of the pandemic remain a consideration.  A total of 328 business leaders from across the state and industry sectors responded.

For the first quarter, four of six metrics the index tracks declined. Five metrics remained below 50.

Confidence in the Colorado economy fell two points to 46.9. Results were nearly evenly divided with 29.9 percent of business leaders responding to the survey predicting moderate or strong increases in the economy, 31.7 percent expecting no change and 38.4 percent anticipating moderate or strong decreases.

Confidence in the national economy fell a point to 43.5 with 27.5 percent of respondents expecting moderate or strong increases, 26.8 percent anticipating no change and 45.7 percent forecasting moderate or strong decreases.

Sales expectations fell a point, but remained the highest reading among the metrics at 51.5. While 38.7 percent of leaders forecast moderate or strong increases, 31.1 percent anticipated no change and 30.2 percent predicted moderate or strong decreases.

Profit expectations edged down a tenth of a point to 48.7 with 34.1 percent of respondents forecasting moderate or strong increases, 31.4 percent predicting no change and 34.4 percent anticipating moderate or strong decreases.

Hiring expectations rose 1.9 points to 49.9 with 29.3 percent of leaders forecasting moderate of strong increases in staffing, 43.6 percent anticipating no change and 27.1 percent predicting moderate or strong layoffs.

Capital expenditure expectations rose 2.1 points to 46.8 with 27.1 percent of respondents anticipating moderate or strong increases, 40.2 percent no change and 32.7 percent moderate or strong decreases.

Looking ahead to the second quarter, all six metrics rebounded to well above 50.