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Business Barometer: Better outlook now, pessimistic future

The latest Tennessee Business Barometer Index showed continued improvement in the overall outlook of Tennessee business leaders but growing concerns about the future of their firms, according to the latest online survey by MTSU’s Jones College of Business.

The index rose to 153 in July, up from 144 in April. The inaugural survey in July 2015 registered an index of 325.

This chart shows the indices measured by the Tennessee Business Barometer. (Source: MTSU Office of Consumer Research)

This chart shows the indices measured by the Tennessee Business Barometer. (Source: MTSU Office of Consumer Research)

The latest uptick in the index “was due to business leaders’ increasing optimism regarding their individual firm or business even though they have become more pessimistic about the future of the economy,” according to Dr. Tim Graeff, MTSU professor of marketing and coordinator of the index through the Jones College’s Office of Consumer Research.

Jones College of Business logo-updatedThe quarterly index is a collaboration between Middle Tennessee State University and the Tennessee Chamber of Commerce & Industry to capture the mood and outlook of business leaders. The index is computed by adding the percentage of positive responses to each question and subtracting the percentage of negative responses.

Dr. Tim Graeff

Dr. Tim Graeff

Graeff noted that the latest survey showed optimism regarding individual firms and businesses, which can lead to increased investments, hiring and growth in the overall economy.

The overall index score is totaled from four sub-indices: current economic situation, future economic expectations, business/firm performance and employment outlook.

The latest survey showed that perceptions of the current economy have leveled off, while the Future Expectations Index dropped noticeably, he said. But business leaders “are much more upbeat” about their individual businesses and employment outlook remained relatively stable.

The current online survey of 59 business leaders from across Tennessee was conducted between July 6 and July 18. The margin of error is 12.7 percent. Respondents include business owners, vice presidents, senior managers, and managers at firms of various sizes.

The next survey is planned for October 2016.

A pdf copy of the full report is available at http://bit.ly/tbbjul16. Previous reports are available through the MTSU Office of Consumer Research’s website at www.mtsu.edu/consumer.

For more information, contact Graeff at 615-898-5124 or tim.graeff@mtsu.edu. For more information about the Tennessee Chamber of Commerce and Industry, visit www.tnchamber.org.

— Jimmy Hart (jimmy.hart@mtsu.edu)

This fever chart shows the overall index and sub-indices measured by the Tennessee Business Barometer. (Source: MTSU Office of Consumer Research)

This fever chart shows the overall index and sub-indices measured by the Tennessee Business Barometer. (Source: MTSU Office of Consumer Research)