Survey: Colorado business leaders upbeat

Rich Wobbekind
Rich Wobbekind

Colorado business leaders are more confident heading into the new year, according to the latest results of a quarterly survey tracking their outlooks.

Moreover, survey results reflect more stability in that outlook, said Richard Wobbekind, executive director of the business research division at the Leeds School of Business at the University of Colorado in Boulder. “When business people are assessing the environment, they’re seeing it as really stable right now.”

CU reported that its Leeds Business Confidence Index climbed more than a point to 60.8 for the first quarter of 2015.

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. The index has remained above 50 for 13 consecutive quarters.

The average reading for the index has varied only seven-tenths of a point over the past seven quarters, a fraction of the 7.9 point variation each quarter before that. “We’ve gone seven quarters with very low volatility quarter to quarter after having very high volatility quarter to quarter for the previous run of the entire survey,” Wobbekind said.

For the first quarter of 2015, the results were positive for each of six metrics the index tracks.

The reading was highest for confidence in the Colorado economy with a gain of more than two points to 66.2. While 66 percent of business leaders responding to the survey upon which the index was based expect the state economy to moderately or strongly increase,

34 percent anticipate no change or a decrease.

Confidence in the national economy increased nearly four points to 60 with more than 52 percent of respondents forecasting moderate or strong growth.

The reading for hiring plans edged up three-tenths of a point to 58.2 with more than 42 percent of business leaders expecting a moderate or strong increase in hiring. Almost 45 percent anticipate no change. Nonfarm payrolls have increased on a year-over-year basis 47 straight months in Colorado. Mesa County and Colorado Springs remain the only two metropolitan areas in the state that have yet to rebound to prerecession employment levels.

The reading for capital expenditures rose six-tenths of a point to 59.4 with 48 percent of business leaders forecasting a moderate or strong increase in capital spending.

The reading for sales slipped three-tenths of a point to 61.8, although 60 percent of business leaders still expect a moderate or strong increase in sales in the first quarter.

The reading for profits edged up two-tenths to 59 with nearly 55 percent of business leaders anticipating a moderate or strong increase.