Latest Tenn. Business Barometer: Economic optimism...

Latest Tenn. Business Barometer: Economic optimism rebounding

Business leaders across the state have experienced an uptick in optimism since the summer, according to the latest Tennessee Business Barometer measured by MTSU’s Jones College of Business.

The most recent online survey showed the overall index rising to 577 from 461 in July.

This gain was due to more positive perceptions of the current economy, increasing optimism about the future economy, and improving expectations regarding business/firm performance, reported Tim Graeff, MTSU professor of marketing and coordinator of the index through the Jones College’s Office of Consumer Research.

Dr. Tim Graeff

Dr. Tim Graeff

The overall index score is totaled from four sub-indices measured in the 17-question survey: current economic situation, future economic expectations, business/firm performance and employment outlook. Find the full survey report and previous reports at

“Tennessee business leaders increasingly believe economic conditions are improving,” Graeff noted.

Other report highlights:

• The Current Situation Index rose from 219 in July to 273 currently. A strong majority of respondents (66 percent) said economic conditions in the U.S. are “good.”

• Perceptions of the Tennessee economy are even more positive, as the percent who said economic conditions in Tennessee are “good” climbed to 83 from 73. In addition, perceptions of economic conditions for individual firms improved.

• The Employment Outlook Index improved slightly and remained in the negative range. “This is due in large part to continuing frustration from an inability to find qualified employees,” Graeff noted. Only 4 percent said qualified employees are “easy to find,” while the majority (53 percent) said qualified employees are “hard to find.”

• In response to concerns from business leaders that college graduates lack “soft skills” such as professionalism, colleges and universities such as MTSU are seeking to identify ways to incorporate training in these skills into their degree programs and integrate professional mentoring into the curriculum, Graeff reported. The majority of respondents did not have a professional mentor when they were in college. But of those, a strong majority (almost three-fourths) wished they had a professional mentor as a college student.

The current Tennessee Business Barometer online survey of 81 business leaders from across Tennessee was conducted between Oct. 5-13 in partnership with the Tennessee Chamber of Commerce and Industry. The sample of respondents included business owners, vice presidents, senior managers, and managers/others at firms of various sizes.

The inaugural survey in July 2015 registered an index of 325. The next survey is planned for January.

For more information about the MTSU Office of Consumer Research, visit For more information about the Tennessee Chamber, visit

For more information about the survey, contact Graeff at 615-898-5124 or