The Mountain States Business Conditions Index, which surveys supply managers, shows positive growth is likely over the next several months for Colorado, Utah and Wyoming.

For the 15th straight month, leading economic indicators for the mountain region were positive, indicating economic growth is on tap for the first half of 2011.

With a score of 50 defined as “growth neutral,” December’s index for the three states climbed to 57.6, up from 56.0 in November. The Goss Institute for Economic Research, which administered the survey, attributed the positive growth to mining and durable goods manufacturing.

Business confidence is improving around the region as well, with an index score of 64.8 for December, compared to 62.9 the previous month.  Employment remains a lagging indicator, however, as the employment index dipped to 56.4 from November’s 57.2. The Goss Institute projects job growth to reach 1.5 percent for the first half of 2011, aided by growth in manufacturing and mining.

Meanwhile, wholesale prices have risen to inflationary levels, up to 71.2 from 67.8 the previous month, with the prices-paid index moving above growth-neutral in 18 of the past 19 months. Supply managers surveyed indicated they added to inventories for the 13th straight month, spurred by stronger sales outlooks, as new export orders rose to 61.6 from 60.1 in November.

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In Colorado, the index jumped to 58.1 compared to 53.7 in November, led by new orders and positive production figures.