This fever chart shows the Tennessee Business Barometer Index and sub-indices results since its inception in July 2015. The latest Business Barometer Index stands at 428, up from 416 in April. (Courtesy of the MTSU Office of Consumer Research)


 Tennessee business leaders hold positive and improving views of the U.S. economy and the state’s economy, according to the latest Tennessee Business Barometer quarterly survey by MTSU’s Jones College of Business.

The Tennessee Business Barometer index improved to 428 from 416 in April. The index is determined from a series of questions about areas such as hiring and staffing, trade and current events related to the economy.

“Business leaders expect stable growth for their firms amid uncertainty related to trade, tariffs, and difficulty finding qualified employees to further grow their business,” said Tim Graeff, MTSU marketing professor and director of the Office of Consumer Research.

“Further, expectations for increased hiring can help maintain a growing economy.”

Other survey highlights:

Hiring: With respect to staffing and hiring, the lack of soft skills or other employability skills among job applicants and college graduates is a frequent challenge, Graeff noted. 

“Tennessee business leaders almost unanimously approve of work-based learning and apprenticeships. Further, the majority would be willing to participate with local education providers in work-based learning or apprenticeships.”

Trade: With respect to the effects of trade on the economy, nearly two-thirds of respondents support the recent United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement on trade, or USMCA, “and expect it will have a positive effect on the overall U.S. economy. Tennessee business leaders are more likely to support free and open trade with other countries versus a more unilateral trade approach,” Graeff said.

Tariffs: Views regarding tariffs are more mixed. While some believe tariffs on goods from other countries are harmful to the U.S. economy, an almost equal number disagree.

“However, with respect to China, more agree versus disagree that tariffs on Chinese goods will have a positive effect on the overall U.S. economy,” Graeff noted.

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 

The current online survey of 83 business leaders from across Tennessee was conducted in partnership with the Tennessee Chamber of Commerce and Industry between July 8-18.  

The inaugural survey in July 2015 registered an index of 325.

For more information about the MTSU Office of Consumer Research, visit For more information about the Tennessee Chamber, visit