Colorado business leaders continue to show record optimism about the state economy, according to the latest edition of the University of Colorado Boulder’s Leeds Business Confidence Index (LBCI) for the third quarter of 2021.
The report, released by the Leeds Business Research Division at the Leeds School of Business, measures Colorado business leaders’ optimism and expectation for six components: state economy, national economy, industry sales, industry profits, industry hiring and capital expenditures.
Responses from a total of 250 panelists, surveyed from June 1-21, recorded strong positive perceptions in all six areas for the third quarter. The greatest optimism was recorded in the state economy (70.9), industry sales (69.6) and hiring (67.7). A score of 50 marks a neutral outlook.
The overall LBCI rose 2.9 points to 67.3 in the third quarter.
“The reopening of the economy, increased demand and decreasing COVID-19 cases in conjunction with a vaccine has generated more confidence amongst business owners,” said Rich Wobbekind, senior economist and faculty director of the Business Research Division. “These results indicate that business owners believe this will be a sustained economic recovery.”
The survey also indicates a shift in work culture: while remote work is leveling out from the pandemic, respondents said it will continue. Post-pandemic, roughly 12% of those surveyed said they expect to never work remotely, down from 45% pre-pandemic. A majority of respondents said they expect their company’s employment to reach pre-pandemic levels sometime between the third quarter of 2021 and the fourth quarter of 2022.
Sales and profits continue to rebound. More than half of companies reported sales had either never decreased or already returned to pre-pandemic levels while the remaining respondents expect to see recovery in the second half of 2021 or into 2022.
Panelists did cite concerns about worker shortages, inflation and the supply chain. Inflation in the Denver-Aurora-Lakewood area increased 3.2% year-over-year in May compared to 5% nationally.
Even with those concerns, business leaders expressed confidence in both the state and national economies. They expect Colorado to outpace the nation—roughly 92% of respondents believe the state economy will stay neutral-to-positive next quarter.