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MTSU survey: Tennessee business leaders sour on fu...

MTSU survey: Tennessee business leaders sour on future economic prospects

Outlook among Tennessee business leaders has fallen sharply in recent months, according to the latest Tennessee Business Barometer by MTSU’s Jones College of Business.

Results of the quarterly statewide online survey showed the index dropped to 211 from 428 in July. The index is based on the percentage of positive and negative responses from survey participants to a series of economic questions.

Dr. Tim Graeff, marketing professor

Dr. Tim Graeff

“Although Tennessee business leaders remain relatively positive about the current economy, expectations for the future economy and their individual firms declined,” said Tim Graeff, MTSU marketing professor and director of the Office of Consumer Research, which coordinates the survey.

“Increasing uneasiness regarding economic and political uncertainty contributed to this decline.  However, even with this sharp decline, outlook among Tennessee business leaders remains relatively positive.”

No single issue explains this sharp decline in outlook, said Graeff.

The general decline in expectations “seems to result from growing concerns regarding economic and political uncertainty,” he said, adding that continuing uncertainty around a China trade agreement as well as tariff impacts “continue to weigh on the minds of Tennessee business leaders.”

The decline in outlook by Tennessee business leaders “mirrors the drop in the Conference Board’s national measure of confidence among CEO’s,” Graeff noted. “Their Measure of CEO Confidence™ fell to its lowest level since 2009.”

The Conference Board is a nonpartisan think tank that surveys U.S. consumers each month to produce a Consumer Confidence Index.

This fever chart shows the Tennessee Business Barometer Index and sub-indices results since its inception in July 2015. The latest Business Barometer Index stands at 211, down sharply from 428 in July. (Courtesy of the MTSU Office of Consumer Research)

This fever chart shows the Tennessee Business Barometer Index and sub-indices results since its inception in July 2015. The latest Business Barometer Index stands at 211, down sharply from 428 in July. (Courtesy of the MTSU Office of Consumer Research)

Other survey highlights:

  • The overall mood of Tennessee business  leaders remains “relatively positive,” the survey notes. The percent of business leaders with positive economic views still outnumbers those with negative views.
  • Any decrease in business activity could signal an economic slowdown.
  • Consumer outlook remains strong. Since consumer spending accounts for two-thirds of overall U.S. economic activity, such spending “could help keep the economy growing.”

The current online survey of 65 business leaders from across Tennessee was conducted in partnership with the Tennessee Chamber of Commerce and Industry Oct. 3-9. The sample of respondents includes business owners (32%), vice presidents (8%), senior managers (23%), and managers/others (37%) at firms of various sizes.

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 January 2020.

— Jimmy Hart (Jimmy.Hart@mtsu.edu)

This word cloud shows the 10 most frequently used words from respondents surveyed for the latest Tennessee Business Barometer Index about the future of the U.S. economy. The darker the word, the more frequently it was cited. (Courtesy of the MTSU Office of Consumer Research)

This word cloud shows the 10 most frequently used words from respondents surveyed for the latest Tennessee Business Barometer Index about the future of the U.S. economy. The darker the word, the more frequently it was cited. (Courtesy of the MTSU Office of Consumer Research)


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