DENVER (KDVR) — Things are still looking gloomy, according to the quarterly survey of state business leaders conducted by the Leeds School of Business at the University of Colorado Boulder.

Leaders still expect a recession and have bad feelings in particular about the national economy.

This kind of negative sentiment has been the norm since the COVID pandemic. The Leeds Business Confidence Index has been negative in five of the last six quarters, though this quarter’s index is less negative than the first quarter of the year.

Leaders have negative confidence in the national and state economies, industry profits and hiring, and capital expenditures. Respondents only expressed positive feelings about industry sales.

In the 20 years the school has performed the survey, confidence has never been negative for this long except for the Great Recession. Throughout most of its history, business leaders express some degree of optimism.

Inflation and high-interest rates are what’s souring their outlook more than any other cause. About 34% said interest rates were the reason for their low confidence, while 28.4% said inflation.

About 57% of the survey respondents said they still expect a recession to happen in 2023, though they disagree as to when.

Fifteen percent said a recession will happen soon – in the first half of 2023. Another 42% expect a recession in the second half of the year.