Colorado businesses cautiously optimistic about 2024: New survey

Colorado businesses cautiously optimistic about 2024 New survey

Colorado is heading into 2024 with lingering uncertainty about the economy, according to the results of a recent survey. The Leeds Business Confidence Index, a quarterly survey conducted by the Leeds School of Business at the University of Colorado at Boulder, found that there is continuing “general pessimism” among business leaders in the state.

However, some optimism is heading into the first quarter of this year. Richard Wobbekind, the senior economist and faculty director of the Leeds School’s Business Division, noted that even in mountain communities, the economy’s growth has slowed somewhat, as has job growth. But, he added, the forecast, even for that part of the state’s economy, points to no recession this year.

While capital expenditures are “muted,” Wobbekind said, there are reasons for optimism. He said recent data is “making me feel better” about the broader economy, and some optimism heading into the second quarter of this year can be seen. Wobbekind noted some optimism about the U.S. Federal Reserve Board cutting back on the federal funds rate increases. The Federal Reserve has hiked that rate several times over the past few years to fight inflation.

Although there is significant concern about the construction industry and its effect on business, Wobbekind said recent data had led to some optimism about the year ahead. Despite ongoing turbulence in certain key areas, such as commercial real estate, banking, and venture capital making business investments more difficult, the big things that drive a resort economy. Such as weather and national and international events are largely out of everyone’s control.

While job security, housing, and the price of everyday items can affect spending on discretionary items, the economy’s overall outlook seems positive. The Leeds Business Confidence Index found that actual conditions are generally better than many believe. For example, while there was a lot of speculation about the prospect of a recession in 2023, that didn’t come to pass. Job growth slowed, but it wasn’t slow, and interest rates increased, but the pace of inflation slowed.

Wobbekind and Brian Lewandowski of the Leeds Business Research Division may not have had time to hit the slopes yet. Still, they are optimistic that 2024 will be an “OK year” for Colorado’s economy. Although challenges exist to overcome, such as the construction industry and capital expenditures, the overall outlook is positive. As we head into the new year, business leaders are gradually moving past the idea of a recession. While there may be lingering uncertainty, there are reasons for optimism.