Tennessee Business Barometer: Optimism grows, but still hiring concerns

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The Tennessee Business Barometer Index has bested its record high just set the previous quarter, according to the latest online survey of business leaders by MTSU's Jones College of Business.

April's index rose to 507, up from 470 in January. The 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.

"Overall, Tennessee business leaders are growing in their optimism regarding the current and future economy," reported Dr. Tim Graeff, MTSU professor of marketing and coordinator of the index through the Jones College's Office of Consumer Research.


Business leaders, however, remain concerned about being able to find enough qualified employees.

"Expectations for short-term sales and profitability are positive, tempered by concerns regarding long-term growth due to decreasing expectations for business investment," Graeff noted. "Moreover, while many firms seek to grow and expand their employment base, it is clear that business leaders are becoming increasingly frustrated at the difficulty associated with finding qualified employees."


The overall index score is totaled from four sub-indices measured in the 17-question survey: current economic situation, future economic expectations, business/firm performance and employment outlook. Find the full survey report and previous reports at http://www.mtsu.edu/consumer/reportsbarometer.php.

The largest gain in sub-indices was seen in the Current Situation Index, improving to 216 from 186.

The overall index score is computed by adding the percentage of positive responses to each question and subtracting the percentage of negative responses. The inaugural survey in July 2015 registered an index of 325.

The current survey of 97 business leaders from across Tennessee was conducted between April 3 and April 13. Respondents included business owners, vice presidents, senior managers, and managers at firms of various sizes. The margin of error was 10 percentage points. The next survey is planned for July.

For more information about the MTSU Office of Consumer Research, visit www.mtsu.edu/consumer. For more information about the Tennessee Chamber of Commerce and Industry, visit www.tnchamber.org.

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