A new survey of Colorado business leaders shows lagging confidence in both the state and federal economies heading into the last half of 2019, adding weight to concerns that a recession is on the horizon.
Business leaders also cited the lack of bipartisanship, both at the state Capitol and in Washington, D.C., as a concern for future business growth.
The Leeds Business Confidence Index, produced by the Leeds School of Business at the University of Colorado Boulder, reported Monday that "Colorado business leaders’ confidence remained neutral" heading into the third quarter of 2019.
Four of the six items that make up the index stayed above the optimistic-vs.-pessimistic level of 50%, reflecting confidence in industry sales, profits and hiring, and capital expenditures.
But for the first time in the last 12 months, confidence in in the Colorado and national economy is projected to drop below 50% as the state goes into the third quarter of 2019, the report said. And all six factors that make up the index are projected to slide below 50% by the end of the year.
A factor below 50% reflects less confidence, and according to the report, signs of a bear market.
Business leaders most often cited the state of national politics and trade concerns in their responses.
Richard Wobbekind of the Leeds Business School said in a statement that a lack of bipartisanship at the state and national levels, combined with an unclear course on tariffs, is leaving businesses with a lot of uncertainty.
"Businesses just hate uncertainty,” he added. “When you continually give them uncertainty, they become very cautious, they stop investing, they stop hiring and they take a wait-and-see approach.”
The study is based on responses from 254 "qualified" business leaders in Colorado.