Colorado business leaders feel good – really good – about the state's economic outlook as 2017 leaps out of the starting gate. The Leeds School of Business at the University of Colorado Boulder finds that business confidence has spiked upward in a new survey.

The state's execs have confidence the U.S. economy is growing – but their optimism is greatest looking at the state's economy. Nearly 60 percent of them expect Colorado’s economy to expand in early 2017 – only 13 percent expect a decline. They expect sales and profits to be up, something many retailers agreed with heading into the holiday shopping season. The same expectations hold with hiring and capital expenditures.

There's more good news for the jobs front. The Leeds Business Confidence Index notes the state has already recorded 74 consecutive months of year-over-year employment growth. Colorado's unemployment rate remained below the historical average in 2016 – the November rate was 3.2 percent. The unemployment rate from Denver to Fort Collins has fallen below 3 percent for the first time in 15 years. The job market hasn’t looked this good since before the dot-com bust.

The confidence index wraps up the positive economic vibes by pointing out that all seven of the state's metropolitan areas showed year-over-year employment growth. Boulder and the Denver-Aurora-Lakewood areas led the way with 3.9 percent and 3.1 percent growth rates. The lowest rate belongs to Grand Junction, with a 0.3 percent y-o-y growth rate.