The confidence of Colorado business leaders in the economy continues to be positive heading into the fourth quarter and has increased moderately compared to a year ago. That is the key message from the most recent Leeds Business Confidence Index (LBCI) recently released by the University of Colorado Boulder’s Leeds School of Business.
It’s not as bullish, however, the LBCI says, as it was a quarter ago, with slight drops across the board resulting in a current overall reading of 59.5, down from 61.2 heading into the third quarter of 2014.
“I wouldn’t put too much concern in a slight dip in the numbers,” said economist Richard Wobbekind, executive director of the Leeds School’s Business Research Division, which conducts the LBCI. “Last year and this year, we’re growing at the fastest rate in terms of employment growth that we’ve seen since the year 2000, so we’re really on a very, very strong growth rate for jobs year over year.”
Expectations measured positive—at 50 or higher—for all metrics within the index. Those include the national economy, state economy, industry sales, industry profits, capital expenditures and hiring plans. The favorable standings represent 12 consecutive quarters of positive expectations, according to the LBCI. The report is now in its 11th year.
Confidence in profits saw the greatest decrease by 2.4 points, going from 61.2 in the third quarter down to 58.8 this quarter. Confidence in sales slipped to 62.1, down from 63.4 last quarter.
Confidence in the state economy outpaces confidence in the national economy—a 38-quarter trend in the LBCI. State economy confidence posted a reading of 63.9 points heading into the fourth quarter, down from 65.9 in the third quarter.
After posting the greatest increase heading into the third quarter—one point—capital expenditures have fallen from 59.6 to 57.8 this quarter.
Though hiring expectations also fell slightly to 57.9, down from 59.5 last quarter, employment in Colorado has recorded 47 months of year-over-year growth.
While Colorado employment figures vary greatly by industry, labor markets in all of the state’s metropolitan areas saw growth in August—a 12-month trend—compared with a year earlier. The top three areas showing growth are Greeley (+4.7%), Boulder (+3%) and Denver-Aurora-Broomfield (+2.2%) Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSAs). The Greeley MSA is 13.9% above pre-recession levels.
Employment growth also was recorded in the following MSAs: Fort Collins-Loveland (+2%), Pueblo (+1.9%), Grand Junction (+0.7%) and Colorado Springs (+0.4%). The Colorado Springs and Grand Junction MSAs are the only two areas that have not regained pre-recession employment levels in Colorado.
Statewide, the biggest employment gains in August compared with the same month last year were in the mining and logging, manufacturing, and education and health services sectors.