Business leaders who responded to the survey represent every industry in the state, but professional, science and technical services represented the largest percentage of respondents, followed by finance and insurance.
One year ago in March 2020, optimism was at its lowest level in 17 years thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic. Since then, the rebound has been steady but slower than was initially forecast.
While confidence is increasing, 35 percent of businesses suspect job recovery will lag. Colorado’s employment remains down compared to pre-pandemic levels. Employment rates in the state are down 5.6 percent compared to the same time last year, reflecting 156,700 fewer jobs. The current unemployment rate is 6.6 percent, and the national unemployment rate is 6.2 percent.
“Certain sectors are going to be slower to get back to full employment. Some of those jobs have been automated away during the pandemic. So we do see the employment situation taking a lot longer,” said said Richard Wobbekind, senior economist at the Leeds School of Business. “Over half stated they wouldn’t get back to employment levels until 2022 or beyond.”
All seven of the state’s metropolitan areas saw employment fall. The two hardest hit areas were Greeley, which saw a 7.8 percent decrease, and Boulder, which had a 7.6 percent decrease. The heaviest losses by industry were mining and logging at 27.5 percent and hospitality at 20.9 percent.
Looking ahead to the third quarter, expectations rose to a record 68.8 — the highest overall score in the 19-year history of the index. Four of the six components the survey looks at were at an all-time high. The survey coupled the results with comments from businesses and say it signals the end of the pandemic recession.