Despite national declines in net jobs, the Vectra Bank Colorado Small Business Index for Colorado rose during January to 95.6 – up from 94.3 in December.

“January’s Small Business Index was significantly influenced by three main factors,” said Jeff Thredgold, corporate economist for Vectra Bank Colorado.

“On one side, pulling the index downward was the serious weakness in the U.S. economy,” he said. “On the other side, pulling the index upward, were two factors: sharp Federal Reserve interest rate cuts, and increased Colorado labor availability. The end result of this tug-of-war was a small upward increase in the index.”

Colorado’s unemployment rate was estimated at 4.5 percent in the most recent month, up sharply from the prior month’s 4.1 percent rate. A higher jobless rate is a positive contributor to the Small Business Index. Most small businesses are net borrowers, so interest rate cuts, combined with higher unemployment rates, should ease employers’ woes, Thredgold said.