Published: June 30, 2016

The optimism of Colorado business leaders remains positive entering the third quarter, but is projected to dip slightly ahead of the fourth quarter of 2016, according to a University of Colorado Boulder report.

Released today, the Leeds Business Confidence Index shows an overall reading of 54.6 entering the third quarter, down from 55.4 entering the previous quarter. An overall confidence reading of 51.9 was recorded for the fourth quarter of 2016 in the current index.

Compared with a year ago, third-quarter expectations have fallen by 3.6 points and fourth quarter expectations have fallen by 1.6 points.

“The state has been experiencing a slowdown in growth, but still a healthy growth,” said economist Richard Wobbekind, executive director of the Leeds School’s Business Research Division, which conducts the index.

Expectations for the third quarter measured positive – at 50 or higher – for all of the metrics in the index except for the national economy. The other ratings cover the state economy, industry sales, industry profits, capital expenditures and hiring plans. With the exception of expectations for the national economy, which have been in negative territory since the fourth quarter of 2015, the current readings represent 19 consecutive quarters of positive expectations, according to the index.

Top concerns among business leaders, who were surveyed for the index before Britain’s referendum on exiting the European Union, were the pending election; commodity and energy prices; and interest rates and federal policy, said Wobbekind.

Sector-by-sector highlights from the third-quarter 2016 Leeds Business Confidence Index:

  • State economy expectations were essentially flat at 57.4, up from 57.3 ahead of the second quarter;
  • National economy confidence decreased to 47.2 from 49.5 ahead of the second quarter;
  • Profits expectations rose slightly to 56.9 from 56.7 ahead of the second quarter;
  • Sales expectations dipped to 58.6 from 59.5 ahead of the second quarter; 
  • Capital expenditure expectations rose to 54.4 from 54.1 ahead of the second quarter;
  • Hiring expectations decreased to 53.4 from 55.6 ahead of the second quarter. 

Colorado’s unemployment level, which remains lower than the national level, increased to 3.4 percent in May from a 15-year low in March of 2.9 percent. The state rate compares with a national unemployment rate in May of 4.7 percent.

Year-over-year employment growth in May was recorded for all of Colorado’s metropolitan statistical areas (MSAs). The May gains are shown in the following comparison with previous year-over-year employment percentages recorded in February.

  February 2015-16 May 2015-16
Denver-Aurora-Lakewood* +2.5 percent +3.1 percent
Fort Collins-Loveland +3.8 percent + 3 percent
Boulder +1.8 percent +2.7 percent
Colorado Springs +2.7 percent +2.5 percent
Pueblo +1.5 percent +2 percent
Greeley -.6 percent +1.4 percent
Grand Junction +.2 percent +1 percent

*Since the previous Leeds Business Confidence Index, the Denver-Aurora MSA changed from including Broomfield to now instead including Lakewood.

Statewide, the biggest employment gains as of May 2016 compared with May 2015 were in the construction (+7.1 percent), leisure and hospitality (+5 percent) and education and health services (+3.1 percent) sectors.

Visit the Leeds School’s Business Research Division page for the third quarter report and more information.

Richard Wobbekind, Leeds School of Business, 303-492-1147
Brian Lewandowski, Leeds School of Business, 303-492-3307
Elizabeth Lock, CU-Boulder media relations, 303-492-3117

“The state has been experiencing a slowdown in growth, but still a healthy growth,” said economist Richard Wobbekind, executive director of the Leeds School’s Business Research Division, which conducts the index.