Tennessee business leaders have a much more positive outlook of the current and future economy, according to the latest Tennessee Business Barometer by MTSU’s Jones College of Business.
Results of the quarterly statewide online survey showed the index soared to 508 this month, up significantly from 211 in October. The index is based on the percentage of positive and negative responses from survey participants to a series of economic questions.
“Outlook among the state’s business leaders has improved dramatically,” said Tim Graeff, MTSU marketing professor and director of the Office of Consumer Research, which coordinates the survey. “Even with the continuing impeachment process in Congress, fewer business leaders reported concerns regarding overall economic and political uncertainty.”
No single issue explains this sharp improvement in outlook, Graeff noted, as there appear to be “many bright spots for the economy” that explain this more optimistic attitude.
The recent United States-Mexico-Canada trade agreement, also known as USMCA, along with the phase-one trade deal with China should support higher paying jobs for American workers and growth in the U.S. economy, he said. The current U.S. unemployment rate of 3.5% is the lowest since 1969.
“Growing labor participation rates point to an expanding job market. Wages are on the rise for many Americans, and recent gains in the stock market reflect optimism among investors,” he added.
Tennessee business leaders view the overall U.S. economy as stable, strong, and growing, which bodes well for the state’s economy, consumers, and workers.
“As businesses invest to grow and expand, they stimulate even further growth in the economy by hiring more workers,” Graeff said. “Also, when businesses spend money to expand operations and to make purchases from suppliers, this provides those other businesses with more money to hire more workers and grow their own businesses. This, coupled with increasing consumer confidence, can lead to even more economic growth.”
When asked to report what was on their minds when thinking about the future of the economy, no respondent mentioned the impeachment proceedings against President Donald Trump.
The current online survey of 104 business leaders from across Tennessee was conducted in partnership with the Tennessee Chamber of Commerce and Industry between Jan. 10 and Jan. 18.
The survey includes four sub-indices: current outlook, future outlook, business/firm outlook and employment outlook. Find the full survey report and previous reports at http://www.mtsu.edu/consumer/reportsbarometer.php.
The inaugural survey in July 2015 registered an index of 325. The next Tennessee Business Barometer survey is scheduled for April.
For more information about the MTSU Office of Consumer Research, visit www.mtsu.edu/consumer. For more information about the Tennessee Chamber, visit www.tnchamber.org.
— Jimmy Hart (Jimmy.Hart@mtsu.edu)