MURFREESBORO, Tenn. — The Business and Economic Research Center at Middle Tennessee State University, in partnership with the Tennessee Advisory Commission on Intergovernmental Relations, or TACIR, has released a new version of "Tracking Tennessee's Economy," an interactive dashboard and website allowing the general public to visualize economic and labor market trends.
On the site, www.mtsu.edu/tacir, economic indicators are available for Tennessee’s 95 counties, including labor force, employment, unemployment, unemployment rate, and sales tax collections. The MSA indicators include seasonally adjusted weekly unemployment claims, single-family home construction permits, state sales tax collections, nonfarm employment, unemployment rates, average weekly hours worked, and average hourly earnings for Tennessee. Monthly data goes back to January 2006.
The new site features a monthly analysis by BERC Director Murat Arik, Ph.D., examining data at the state and county levels as well as for the 10 different metropolitan statistical areas (MSA).
“The new site is a greatly modernized platform to clearly visualize Tennessee’s economic data at a time when there is a greater focus on the state’s fiscal health,” said Arik, an assistant professor of management at MTSU.
Arik has consulted extensively with local and state government agencies, chambers of commerce, and private businesses. His research focuses on regional economic trends, international business dynamics, strategic management of resources, and innovation management.
The data displayed in the dashboard is beginning to reveal the full impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on Tennessee’s economy, as many businesses closed, and many Tennesseans remained at home to contain the spread of the disease. BERC Associate Director Steven Livingston, Ph.D., said the BERC team has been collaborating remotely since March on developing the new dashboard, tracking the state economy in a volatile time.
“As counties and metro areas across Tennessee experience the economic effects of COVID-19, this new site allows the general public to better track and understand how the virus is impacting the state,” Livingston said.
Livingston, a professor of political science and international relations at MTSU, edits BERC's Global Commerce: Tennessee and the International Economy. He has written extensively on international trade issues, American public policy, and foreign affairs.
BERC research associate Zhuo “Joe” Wang led the design and development of the project using Tableau data visualization software. Wang updates the dashboards monthly and provides technical support to improve user experience. To help improve dashboard maintenance and functionality, additional BERC staff assist with the overall operation:
- BERC communication editor Brian Delaney plays a supporting role in developing graphics, content editing, and web layout.
- BERC student researcher Jessikah Riley, an undergraduate accounting student at MTSU, plays an instrumental role in gathering and analyzing the dashboard data.
- BERC secretary Barbara Pieroni equally contributed an intensive and thorough review of all dashboard content and helped test and improve user functionally issues.
BERC and TACIR staff welcome feedback from local government officials on ways to improve the dashboard. The previous joint BERC and TACIR website tracking the state economy will remain operational for several more months as data is migrated and integrated into the new platform.