A tough forecast for Colorado, region | SummitDaily.com

A tough forecast for Colorado, region

The Denver Post

A leading economic index for Colorado, Utah and Wyoming dropped in March, possibly signaling further struggles for the region, including job losses.

The Mountain States index ” based on a survey of supply and purchasing managers in the three-state region ” slumped to 39.2 from February’s 44.6. An index of 50.0 is considered stable for growth.

“While the region has clearly dipped into a recession, the overall economic downturn is going to be more shallow for the region than for the nation,” said Ernie Goss, research director for the Goss Institute of Economic Research.

The March employment index declined again, to 36.4 from 40.7 in February and 44.5 in January. And for the first time since the recession began, the survey recorded a sharp increase in the regional prices-paid index.

That inflation gauge, tracking the cost of raw materials and supplies, climbed to 50.0 from January’s record-low 35.3.

“The recession came to most of the Mountain States region late,” Goss said.

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Still, the study’s confidence measure soared to its highest level since January 2007.

The regional business-confidence index expanded to 58.5 from 31.5 in February and January’s 23.6.

“Our survey was conducted after Treasury Secretary (Timothy) Geithner announced the latest U.S. Treasury bank plan but before the mounting problems of GM and Chrysler surfaced,” Goss said.

The institute also asked supply managers to predict their expected pay change for 2009. More than 44 percent anticipate no salary increase or a pay cut this year. The remaining purchasers expect an increase ranging from 1 percent to 5 percent. Almost none anticipates an increase greater than 5 percent.