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What works: Colorado business leaders are pessimistic about 2023. Should they be?

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A survey that asked 143 Colorado business leaders how things were doing found the group was still pessimistic about the new year, with more than half believing the US will enter a recession within the next six months. months, according to the Leeds Business Research Division at the University of Colorado.

It left the Leeds Business Confidence Index – which polls sales, profits, hiring and capital expenditure – remaining at its fourth lowest point in its 20-year history, at 39, 8. A score of 50 is considered neutral. A year ago, the index was at 58.0.

In a quarterly survey of 143 Colorado business leaders, the Leeds Business Confidence Index registered pessimistic sentiment in the first quarter of 2023 with a score of 39.8, tied with the fourth-lowest score in 20 years. A rating below 50 means the outlook is much more pessimistic. The report is provided by the Leeds School of Business at the University of Colorado at Boulder.

The sentiment comes as the economy once again showed signs of growth, with US gross domestic product rising 3.2% in the third quarter after two quarters of slight declines. At the same time, Colorado’s GDP annualized rate rose 3.5%. The need to hire more workers has continued as job creation has also increased in the state, but not as rapidly as before.

So, asked Rich Wobbekind, senior economist in the School’s Business Research Division who conducted the survey, why were they so negative?

“The fact that four of the indicators are internally based (tells me) that they are processing more information internally than their business is slowing down,” Wobbekind said at a press conference on Wednesday. “And that’s not inconsistent (but) it looks a bit more bearish than some of the other confidence indexes we’re seeing, especially in light of the fact that the state of Colorado is performing better than other parts of the country. .”

One factor not yet known could change everything, but the negative sentiment could simply be based on who was questioned, he added. The financial sector was hit hardest in the second half of last year as interest rates soared. This resulted in higher costs for new mortgages, homebuyers having to put their searches on hold and finance jobs to be cut.

Rich Wobbekind, senior economist in the school’s Business Research Division, at the Colorado Business Economic Outlook conference in Denver on Dec. 5, 2022. (Tamara Chuang, The Colorado Sun)

But that feedback, along with a review of several other economic indicators, led Leeds economists to predict growth in Colorado this year, albeit at a slower pace than last year. Projections for Colorado:

  • Employment is expected to increase by 4.4% in 2022 over the previous year and continue to increase by 2% in 2023.
  • Government personal income growth, up 7.9% annually in the third quarter of 2022, is expected to increase by 6.2% in 2023.
  • Colorado’s GDP is expected to grow 2% this year.
  • Inflation is expected to rise by 4.5% this year, which is slower than last year.

“You might be wondering if our forecast is stronger than it should be,” Wobbekind said. “We do not think so.”

>> Read Leeds predictions

Participate in the survey:


45% of WW survey respondents get a raise

Last year, in the third quarter, personal income rose in all 50 states. But none of the gains were as large as Colorado’s 14.2% increase, according to the US Bureau of Economic Analysis.

Whether it’s from workers changing jobs for better pay, successful union contract negotiations, or employers raising wages to retain staff, it’s been a good year to be employed in Colorado.

This year could be the same. CU’s business school predicts personal income will grow 6.2% this year. And with high inflation rates over the past year, this has had an impact on the rising cost of living for people on minimum wage, government benefits, or other regular pay raises.

In What’s Working’s latest unscientific survey “Are you getting a raise?” 45% of the 134 respondents answered yes, they were receiving or giving a raise in 2023:

Did you get a raise in 2023? Take the survey: https://cosun.co/COraises

Many survey participants shared additional comments about their increase. “I am a railroad conductor. My pay raises have been well publicized lately,” wrote Shawn Seeley, who lives in Fort Collins.

He confirmed that he was part of the group of railway workers who negotiated a 24% pay rise on a five-year contract. He hasn’t had a raise since July 2019, so some of the negotiations included a 14% retroactive salary that was paid earlier this week. Another 4% comes in July, he added.

“As you can imagine, going this long without a raise feels like you’re falling behind with the kind of inflation we’ve had recently,” he said. “In return, receiving a 14% raise all at once feels like you’ve won quite a prize. Truth be told, our contracts have, overall, kept us ahead of inflation, and this one puts us back on a level playing field.

Marnie Lansdown, administrator of the Freedom Service Dogs office in Englewood, also received a massive 13% pay raise. But for different reasons.

“I work in the nonprofit sector, and my organization just raised wages for virtually all hourly workers in an effort to help staff get ahead of inflation,” Lansdown said. “The result is that staff feel good with the employer and are much more likely to stay, as far as I can tell.”

But, of course, around 55% of respondents said they didn’t get a raise or didn’t expect to get one in 2023. For some, it’s because they got a raise l last year (“16% increase in 2022 due to compensation study,” one person said). Another person said that she hadn’t been at her job for very long, so she didn’t expect it. Others understood that we are going through a slowing economy, such as 15% who chose the answer: “I understand. Times are tough even for my employer.

Others simply answered “no” or “I wish! »

But sometimes even a raise didn’t help. One person who received the 3% cost of living adjustment as a state government employee added, “After three years my income is no longer enough to sustain life in Denver, so I now feel like I have to leave Colorado. .”

But the year is just beginning. There is still hope. Lorie Thomas, who works as a part-time nurse in Pueblo, decided to ask for a raise after working for 14 months. Her employer said OK but didn’t say how much it was going to cost. She is PRN, or pro re netameaning she works as needed.

“Apparently no one had even thought about it because they hadn’t had a PRN nurse for so long,” Thomas said. “Tomorrow we will see if the increase has already taken place and what it is about!”


Other work bits

➔ Upcoming job fair: The Colorado Department of Corrections always needs workers. The agency is hosting at least four job fairs this month, including a virtual one on Jan. 12. The other three will be held in Sterling (January 11), Colorado Springs (January 25) and Pueblo (January 26). Hiring incentives of up to $12,000 are advertised with a starting salary for Correctional Officer 1 at “over $50,000/year”. >> Details, virtual registration

➔ Jobs still growing but slowing down: Slowing job growth was the economic mantra for 2022 and the last month of the year was no exception. The United States added 223,000 jobs in December, according to the Department of Labor. That’s slower growth than in recent months, but it means the United States continues to create jobs. The country’s unemployment rate fell to 3.5%, returning to pre-pandemic lows. Colorado data will be released in two weeks. >> Reportage, NY Times

➔ Cycle of EV credits available in Colorado: Various public programs aim to offset the cost of purchasing an electric vehicle. Colorado Sun reporter Michael Booth guides you through what is available. >> Read

➔ Only one week left to challenge terrible internet speeds: $42.5 billion in federal funding is available to help states invest in better broadband infrastructure — and create more jobs — that will get more “unserved” households online faster. Colorado officials are encouraging residents with below-average service to check their status on the national broadband map. >> Read

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Thank you for following me for this week’s report. As always, share your 2 cents on how the economy is holding you back or helping you up at cosun.co/heyww. ~ Tamara

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What works is a Colorado Sun column about surviving in today’s economy. E-mail tamara@coloradosun.com with stories, advice or questions. Read it archiveask a question to cosun.co/heyww and don’t miss the next one by subscribing to coloradosun.com/getww.

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