Outlook among Tennessee business leaders has improved the past three months even as worries persist about inflation, worker shortages, the supply chain and political uncertainty, according to results from the latest Tennessee Business Barometer by MTSU’s Jennings A. Jones College of Business.
The latest Tennessee Business Barometer Index, which measures state business leaders’ perceptions of the current and future economy, rose to 287 in January, up from 207 in October.
“Even though political and economic uncertainties remain regarding labor shortages and supply chains, concerns about rising inflation continue, and Tennessee business leaders disapprove of the way President Joe Biden and the U.S. Congress are handling the economy, outlook for the future of the economy has improved,” noted Tim Graeff, director of the university’s Office of Consumer Research, which oversees the quarterly index.
The largest improvement was in the Future Expectations Index which rose to 32 from -20.
However, concerns persist as nearly two-thirds of Tennessee business leaders reported feeling frustrated or worried about the future of the economy, with nearly one-third report feeling “upset, sad, or angry.”
“Labor and staffing remain a significant concern for Tennessee business leaders,” Graeff noted. “Business leaders are also concerned about higher inflation, increasing polarization between political parties, instability in our political system, declining political ethics, and the inability of political leaders to solve problems. Aside from rising inflation, political-related issues are of most concern for Tennessee business leaders.”
Biden bad, Lee liked
This frustration stems from their lack of approval of the way Biden, a Democrat, and the Democratic-controlled U.S. Congress are handling the economy as viewed from survey respondents in red state Tennessee.
Yet those same business leaders have very favorable views of Republican Gov. Bill Lee and the Tennessee General Assembly, controlled by a GOP supermajority. Almost two-thirds approve of the way Lee is handling the Tennessee economy, and more than half have favorable views of the legislature.
The current online survey of 92 business leaders from across Tennessee was conducted in partnership with the Tennessee Chamber of Commerce & Industry between Jan. 13-22. Find the full Tennessee Business Barometer survey report and previous reports at https://bit.ly/2GZvO7U.
About the Barometer
The Tennessee Business Barometer is an online opinion survey that tracks an overall index and four sub-indices: current outlook, future outlook, business/firm performance and employment outlook. Index scores are calculated from the percentages of positive and negative responses to a series of questions about perceptions of the economy.
The inaugural survey in July 2015 registered an index of 325, and the next survey is scheduled for April.
— Jimmy Hart (Jimmy.Hart@mtsu.edu)