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Weekend edition October 06, 2023 | Katelyn Keenehan

Survey results: TN Business Leaders remain confident, despite projected recession

The majority of business leaders believe Tennessee's economy outperforms the national trends. They cite state business investment, government policies, and labor laws as the driving force.

Wall Street is not feeling very confident about the state of the business economy. Talks of a ‘silent depression,’ inflation, and increased interest rates have left investors preparing for a recession in the first half of 2024. For example, the Business Insider said the state of the economy could “tip into a recession within months.” Fortune said a recession is likely to hit soon, and Fox Business predicts a historic crash could be on the horizon in quarter one.

However, in Tennessee the grass is greener. Compared to the national average, few business leaders in Tennessee are worried about a recession. According to a new survey from the Boyd Center for Business and Economic Research at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville (UTK), the majority of business leaders feel confident about the state of Tennessee’s economy.

Seventy-three percent of this year’s respondents, who are made up of business leaders and experts, said they expect Tennessee’s economy to outperform the U.S. economy over the coming year. The survey respondents represent every industry, with the largest number of respondents being in finance, consulting, engineering, government, and professional services.

Also, 87 percent of those respondents have their companies headquartered in Tennessee.

“The optimism about our state’s economy, as well as the lowered fear of recession, are both very encouraging to see,” said Don Bruce, Director of the Boyd Center. “That confidence among business leaders is a reflection of the work our state is doing to encourage strong economic growth in Tennessee.”

More than half of the local business leaders answered that Tennessee’s economy is exceeding the national economy due to “good business investment in the state.” Also, almost 70 percent said the state’s government is doing an excellent or good job of creating that business environment.

Furthermore, while national data may suggest a more split opinion on the future of the economy, almost 73 percent of business leaders in Tennessee believe the state is headed in the right direction.

The Boyd Center created the Business Leaders Survey in August 2020. Leaders fill out the survey biannually to provide a unique perspective on Tennessee and the nation’s economy. Responses from the most recent survey were collected between August 1 and August 23, 2023.

Boyd Center for Business and Economic Research 2023 Business Leaders Survey.

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