Survey: Colorado business leaders more upbeat

Richard Wobbekind
Richard Wobbekind

Colorado business leaders are more optimistic heading into the new year thanks in part to the prospect of lower taxes and regulatory reform under a new presidential administration, according to the latest results of a quarterly survey.

“We thought one way or the other, the election would be enough to sort of stabilize business expectations and give them the operating environment they needed going forward. They not only got that, but they got the announcement of lower corporate tax rates and more attempts to deal with regulatory policy,” said Richard Wobbekind, executive director of the business research division of the Leeds School of Business at the University of Colorado at Boulder.

The Leeds Business Confidence Index for the first quarter of 2017 climbed to 60.3, up 7.3 points from the fourth quarter of 2016 and 4.9 points from the first quarter of 2016.

The Leeds School of Business calculates the index based on the results of quarterly surveys of business leaders from across the state and a variety of industries. Readings above 50 reflect positive expectations. The latest overall reading has topped 50 for  22 consecutive quarters.

For the first quarter of 2017, readings topped 50 for each of the six metrics the index tracks.

Confidence in the Colorado economy rose 5.3 points to 62.8, with nearly 60 percent of business leaders responding to the latest survey expecting moderate or strong increases in the economy.

Confidence in the national economy jumped more than 13 points to 61.3, with 60 percent of leaders anticipating moderate or strong increases in the economy.

The reading for hiring in Colorado rose 3.1 points to 56.3. While 46.4 percent of leaders said they expect moderate to strong increases in hiring, 42.6 percent anticipated no change and 11 percent forecast moderate to strong decreases.

The reading for capital expenditures increased 7.4 points to 59.1 with 47.7 percent of leaders expecting moderate to strong increases in spending. While 37.6 percent of leaders said they anticipate no change, 14.8 percent forecast decreases.

The reading for sales advanced 4.5 points to 59.8, with 54.8 percent of business leaders expecting increased sales. While 29.5 percent of leaders forecast no change, 15.6 percent anticipated decreases.

The reading for profits climbed 7.2 points to 59.4. While 52.7 percent of  leaders said they expect increases, 30 percent anticipated no change and 17.3 percent forecast decreases.