State Business Leaders Concerned About Economic Outlook

Outlook among Tennessee business leaders has fallen sharply in recent months, according to the latest Tennessee Business Barometer by MTSU’s Jones College of Business. Results of the quarterly statewide online survey showed the index dropped to 211 from 428 in July. The index is based on the percentage of positive and negative responses from survey participants to a series of economic questions.

The results show that although Tennessee business leaders remain relatively positive about the current economy, expectations for the future economy and their individual firms have declined. MTSU researchers who conducted the study say the general decline seems to result from growing concerns regarding economic and political uncertainty, especially with continuing uncertainty around a China trade agreement as well as tariff impacts.

Researchers also say the decline in outlook by Tennessee business leaders mirrors the drop in the Conference Board’s national measure of confidence among CEOs. “Their Measure of CEO Confidence™ has fallen to its lowest level since 2009. The Conference Board is a nonpartisan think tank that surveys U.S. consumers each month to produce a Consumer Confidence Index.

A bright spot in the survey is that consumer outlook remains strong. Since consumer spending accounts for two-thirds of overall U.S. economic activity, the researchers say such spending could help keep the economy growing.

The current online survey of 65 business leaders from across Tennessee was conducted in partnership with the Tennessee Chamber of Commerce and Industry Oct. 3-9. The sample of respondents includes business owners (32%), vice presidents (8%), senior managers (23%), and managers/others (37%) at firms of various sizes. Find the full survey report and previous reports at