MURFREESBORO -- Tennessee business leaders have a more positive economic outlook this spring despite concerns about the Mueller report and finding qualified workers, according to the latest Tennessee Business Barometer by MTSU's Jones College of Business.
The online survey of business leaders across the state shows a rise in the barometer's overall index to 416 from 355 in January.
The results indicate that concerns earlier this year about "political uncertainty, economic uncertainty, and increasing regulation" have died down, "being replaced by greater optimism for a steadily improving economy," said Tim Graeff, MTSU marketing professor and director of the Office of Consumer Research.
Graeff noted that although perceptions of current economic conditions remain positive, they are becoming less positive. "This is offset by growing expectations for improving business conditions across the board -- not just for the U.S. and state economies but also for industries and individual firms/businesses," Graeff added.
The index is determined by the percentage of positive and negative responses to a series of economic questions. The survey includes four sub-indices: current outlook, future outlook, business/firm outlook and employment outlook. Find the full survey report and previous reports at http://www.mtsu.edu/consumer/reportsbarometer.php.
Other current survey highlights:
• Regarding the recently concluded Mueller investigation, a greater percentage of Tennessee business leaders said the nearly two-year investigation had a negative (48 percent) versus positive (8 percent) effect on the economy, and the majority expect any continued investigations will have further negative effects on the economy (63 percent negative versus 8 percent positive).
• Further, a border wall between the U.S. and Mexico is expected to have a greater effect on the overall U.S. economy (49 percent positive versus 29 percent negative) than on individual businesses in Tennessee (20 percent positive versus 16 percent negative).
• Staffing concerns persist, with only 2 percent of respondents saying qualified employees are "easy to find" compared to 57 percent who said qualified employees are "hard to find."
The current online survey of 63 business leaders from across Tennessee was conducted April 1-8 in partnership with the Tennessee Chamber of Commerce and Industry. The sample of respondents includes business owners (21 percent), vice presidents (11 percent), senior managers (35 percent), and managers/others (33 percent) at firms of various sizes.
The next Tennessee Business Barometer survey is scheduled for July. The inaugural survey in July 2015 registered an index of 325.
For more information about the MTSU Office of Consumer Research, visit www.mtsu.edu/consumer. For more information about the Tennessee Chamber, visit www.tnchamber.org.