Published: June 13, 2013

Wobbekind expects nearly all business sectors to add jobs in new year

Written by Staff • Issue: December 12, 2013 • Campus: CU-Boulder • Tags: Leeds

Outlook presentation draws gathering of business leaders

 Michele McKinney/University of Colorado)

Tom Zwirlein, finance professor in the College of Business at UCCS, speaks during Monday’s Colorado Business Economic Outlook Forum. (Photo: Michele McKinney/University of Colorado)

By Jay Dedrick

Monday’s presentation of the 49th annual Colorado Business Economic Outlook was the centerpiece of a forum presented by Noble Energy. The event drew an audience of more than 700 to the Denver Marriott City Center.

Leeds Business School Dean David Ikenberry was on hand, as well as Richard Wobbekind, executive director of the Leeds School’s Business Research Division, and Patty Silverstein with Development Research Partners; the two led the audience through highlights of the 2014 report.

Doug Suttles, president and CEO of Encana, delivered a keynote address focusing on the oil and gas development that ties his company to the state – and that fuels much of the state’s economy.

The half-day event also included a trio of breakout sessions that brought business leaders together with members of the University of Colorado community.

Brian Lewandowski of the Leeds School moderated “Fires, Floods and Drought: Assessing the Impacts,” a panel that included Tom Zwirlein, finance professor in the College of Business at the University of Colorado Colorado Springs. Leeds’ Sherm Miller moderated another panel, “From the Great Recession to a Great Real Estate Boom.” “NAFTA 20 Years Out” rounded out the afternoon of sessions presented by the Colorado Lending Source.

The event concluded with a networking reception co-presented by the CU Executive MBA Program, the Colorado Brewers Guild and the Colorado Wine Industry Development Board.

Colorado will continue on the road to recovery and add a variety of jobs in 2014 across almost all business sectors following a positive year in 2013, according to economist Richard Wobbekind of the University of Colorado Boulder’s Leeds School of Business.

Wobbekind’s announcement was part of the 49th annual Colorado Business Economic Outlook Forum, delivered Monday by the Business Research Division of the Leeds School and presented by Noble Energy at the Denver Marriott City Center.

The comprehensive outlook report for 2014 features forecasts and trends for 13 business sectors prepared by more than 100 key business, government and industry professionals.

“With Colorado’s skilled workforce, high-tech diversified economy, relatively low cost of doing business, global economic access and exceptional quality of life, the state is poised for long-term economic growth,” Wobbekind wrote in the outlook. Wobbekind is the executive director of the Leeds School’s Business Research Division.

Overall, the forecast calls for a gain of 61,300 jobs in 2014, compared with a gain of about 66,900 jobs this year. All sectors of the Colorado economy are predicted to grow in 2014 with the exception of the information sector, which includes publishing and telecommunications.

Colorado is expected to be in the top five states for job growth in 2014 with workers added in both goods- and services-producing sectors.

The strongest sector for projected job growth in Colorado in 2014 is the professional and business services sector, which is expected to add 14,200 jobs or grow by 3.8 percent.

“Colorado has strategic advantages in the professional and business services sector given the highly educated workforce, innovative spirit and small business base that we have in the state,” Wobbekind said. “If national-level political and fiscal uncertainty subsides, we may see even stronger growth in this sector than what we’re currently projecting.”

Other leading job growth sectors for 2014 include the construction sector, which is expected to add 11,000 jobs or grow by 8.7 percent; and the trade, transportation and utilities sector, which is expected to add 9,100 jobs or grow by 2.2 percent.

Though it was one of the greatest casualties of the recession, the construction sector has exhibited strong growth in recent years in values, permits and employment, according to Wobbekind.

Total value of construction is expected to reach the second highest level in the past decade, rising by 14.8 percent in 2014 with the largest increase due to residential construction. Total housing permits are expected to grow by 17.5 percent with gains in both single- and multifamily units.

The trade, transportation and utilities sector is the largest provider of jobs in Colorado. It includes everything from wholesale and retail trade to a variety of transportation features such as Denver International Airport and gas pipelines, as well as utilities.

DIA is expected to record more than 52 million passengers in 2014. Retail sales in the state are anticipated to rise by 5 percent in 2014, up from 4.2 percent growth in 2013.

Colorado’s unemployment rate is expected to remain below 7 percent in 2014, which is comparatively better than the national unemployment rate.

Commenting on the overall forecast, Wobbekind said, “After the deep recession we encountered as a state and a nation, it is really a relief to be reporting strong positive job growth in Colorado.”

Risks to economic growth nationally include sequestration, the debt limit, government shutdown, Federal Reserve policy and health care reform, according to the outlook.

Colorado’s population is the seventh-fastest growing in the country by percentage and the ninth-fastest growing in the country by number of residents. The state’s population is projected to grow by 1.7 percent to nearly 5.4 million people.

To view the entire economic outlook for Colorado in 2014, including an overview of each of the state’s major economic sectors, visit