The overall Middle Tennessee Consumer Outlook Index rose to 355, up from 322 in February. That compares to an index of 203 in May 2014 and 144 in February 2013.
"This is the highest we have seen the Overall Outlook Index since June 2004 when it was at 360," said Dr. Tim Graeff, director of the Office of Consumer Research in the MTSU Jones College of Business, which conducted the survey. "This is a good sign for the local economy as the outlook scores appear to be back on a solid trend of growing consumer optimism toward the economy."
The current telephone poll of 241 randomly selected adult residents in Davidson, Rutherford and Williamson counties was conducted April 28-30. The sample included both landline and cell phones. The overall index score is computed by adding the percentage of favorable responses to each question of the survey and subtracting the percentage of negative responses.
Local consumers continue to feel good about the current economy. The Current Situation Index rose to 110 from 91 in February. Local consumers were especially positive about the local Middle Tennessee economy, Graeff noted.
Midstate consumers have also become increasingly optimistic about the future, with the Future Expectations Index jumping to 135 from 122 in February.
"A major contributor to this increase was growing optimism regarding the local job market," Graeff said. "Because jobs are such a fundamental component to any growing economy, a positive outlook on the potential for job openings in the future bodes well for even more increases in the outlook index in the future."
Graeff cautioned that the Purchasing Index, however, remained relatively flat "suggesting that we might not see an immediate effect of this increased optimism on consumers' spending."
Factors such as fears about higher gasoline prices can cause consumers to keep a tight grip on their wallets when making spending and budgeting decisions, he said.