Leeds School projects 2012 state economic outlook

December 5, 2011 •

Colorado will continue on the road to recovery and add jobs in 2012 following a positive year in 2011, according to economist Richard Wobbekind of the University of Colorado Boulder's Leeds School of Business.

Wobbekind's announcement was part of the 47th annual Colorado Business Economic Outlook Forum presented Dec. 5 by CU-Boulder's Leeds School of Business.

Compiled by the Leeds School's Business Research Division, the comprehensive outlook for 2012 features forecasts and trends for 13 business sectors prepared by approximately 100 key business, government and industry professionals.

"In 2012 we're predicting slow but steady growth for Colorado, much like the U.S. economy," said Wobbekind, executive director of the Business Research Division. "We'll continue to add jobs in a wide array of sectors, but not at the dramatic rate that is necessary to significantly lower the unemployment rate."

Overall, the forecast calls for a gain of 23,000 jobs in 2012, compared with a gain of 27,500 jobs this year. Most sectors of the Colorado economy are predicted to grow in 2012, including the addition of 2,900 jobs in construction, marking the first positive job growth in that troubled sector in four years.

When comparing the Leeds' forecast to forecasts for other states, Colorado is expected to be in the top 10 states for job growth in 2012.

"The broader story here is Colorado entered the recession later, came out of the recession later and now appears to be accelerating past the rest of the country in terms of job growth and recovery," Wobbekind said.

Even with positive job growth predicted for the state, Wobbekind said uncertainty at numerous levels still clouds the economic picture in the state and nation.

"The theme of almost every national forecast is uncertainty," he said. "Every day there is a new event in Europe or a new event in Washington. So you continue to have all of these elements of uncertainty and they impact consumer confidence and household spending. That is something that is very hard to forecast or predict."

The strongest sector for projected job growth in Colorado in 2012 is the educational and health services sector. The sector is expected to add 7,500 jobs in 2012.

In addition, other leading growth sectors for 2012 include the professional and business services sector with 6,800 jobs added and leisure and hospitality with 3,800 added.

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