Tennessee consumers are more upbeat about the economy even as concerns linger about their future finances and current job prospects, according to the latest statewide consumer survey results from Middle Tennessee State University.
The overall Tennessee Consumer Outlook Index rose to 45 this month, up noticeably from 18 in December. The current online survey of 606 randomly selected Tennessee consumers was conducted between March 1 and March 15, with a margin of error of 4 percent.
The Office of Consumer Research in the MTSU Jones College of Business conducts the quarterly survey, which measures areas such as how consumers feel about the local, state and national economies as well as their personal financial situations and the job market. A pdf copy of the full report is available at http://bit.ly/1VNEc8i.
Dr. Tim Graeff, director of the Office of Consumer Research, offered a caution about the uptick, noting the fact that the "current situation index," a subcategory of the survey, is still in the negatives. That means a greater percentage of consumers have negative views of the current economy than have positive views. The current situation index rose to -35, up from -57 in December.
Broken down by the state's three regions, West Tennessee showed the largest regional improvement in the index (up 48 points). And even though Middle Tennessee saw modest decreases in future outlook and views toward making large purchases, the Midstate still leads the state regarding consumers' perceptions of the economy, Graeff noted. East Tennessee saw modest increases overall.