Published: Jan. 3, 2018 By

Stock photo of person working at computerColorado business leaders are more optimistic than they were three months ago, and they’re gaining confidence in the national economy despite being slightly less rosy about the state economy, according to the Leeds Business Confidence Index (LBCI).

The latest LBCI survey, released today, reports on Colorado business leaders’ expectations heading into 2018.

Looking at the first quarter of the year, all of the LBCI components are above 50, meaning business leaders are feeling positive. Their feelings are holding at those levels for the second quarter of the year.

“We are really seeing businesses reacting more to the national picture in the survey than the state picture,” said Leeds School Business Research Division Executive Director Richard Wobbekind.

He said two quarters of gross domestic product growth and the anticipation of tax cuts played into the optimism.

“They (businesses) are a little bit less optimistic about Colorado, largely based, I believe, on the lack of a labor force,” said Wobbekind.

Key takeaways
  • Business confidence pivoted higher ahead of the first quarter of 2018.
  • Every LBCI category is in positive territory (above 50) going into the new year.
  • Expectations for the state economy marked the only category reflecting lower optimism.
  • Read the complete report.
  • Learn more about the Business Research Division.

In November 2017, the state unemployment rate stood at 2.9 percent, well below the national average.

More LBCI respondents (39.2 percent) believe that the state economy will expand in the first quarter of 2018 than expect a decline (9.6 percent). More than half (51.3 percent) remain neutral.

Only 15 percent of respondents say they are actively replacing workers with technology, but according to Wobbekind, Colorado’s low unemployment rate could push that number upward in 2018.

Respondents who said they were likely to replace workers with technology described IT, software, GIS and automated manufacturing equipment among the substitutes.

The LBCI has measured Colorado business leaders’ opinions about economic and industry trends for the coming quarter since 2003. The index captures expectations for the national economy, state economy, industry sales, profits, hiring plans and capital expenditures.

Chart of 1Q2018 LCBI report