As early voting has begun in Tennessee and across the nation in the runup to the Nov. 3 presidential election, Tennessee business leaders' outlook has surged in recent months, according to the latest Tennessee Business Barometer by MTSU's Jones College of Business.
The latest index rose significantly to 309 from 88 in July.
"Perceptions of the current economy improved dramatically since July, validating increased optimism found in surveys earlier this year," noted Tim Graeff, MTSU marketing professor and director of the university's Office of Consumer Research, which oversees the quarterly index.
"While outlook for the future did not improve dramatically since July, it continued its steady rise."
The online survey includes four sub-indices: current outlook, future outlook, business/firm performance and employment outlook. The index score is calculated from the percentages of positive and negative responses to a series of questions about perceptions of the economy.
The business/firm performance index also rose in the latest survey, indicating business leaders expect improvements in growth, investments, sales, profitability and inventories, Graeff noted, adding that increased investments to build up inventories "can provide additional stimulus to a recovering economy."
"Even with the economic shutdowns earlier this year, the overall Business Barometer Index is now higher than it was this time last year," Graeff noted. "Although perceptions of the current economy are lower than they were one year ago, this is offset by significantly higher expectations for future growth."
Although Tennessee business leaders expressed concerns about political and economic uncertainty, they overwhelmingly support President Donald Trump over Democratic rival Joe Biden when it comes to handling COVID-19, handling the overall U.S. economy, and when it comes to the candidate who will most likely have the greatest positive effect on their firm/business succeeding in the future.
The current online survey of 68 business leaders from across Tennessee was conducted in partnership with the Tennessee Chamber of Commerce and Industry between Oct. 5-12. The sample of respondents includes business owners (31%), vice presidents (12%), senior managers (31%), and managers/others (26%) at firms of various sizes.
Find the full survey report and previous reports at https://bit.ly/2GZvO7U.
The inaugural survey in July 2015 registered an index of 325. The next Tennessee Business Barometer survey is scheduled for January.
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.