Southeast Economy’s Anthem: “We’re In The Money” (250)

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Strongest employment growth in the Southeast will occur in Tennessee, a University of Tennessee economist said Wednesday in the Wall Street Journal’s fourth-quarter economic outlook edition.

The newspaper said: “Maybe it’s time to write an anthem for the Southeastern economy. One suggestion: ‘We’re in the Money.”‘

Dr. Matt Murray, of UT-Knoxville’s Center for Business and Economic Research, said Tennessee will have a 3.4 percent increase in nonagricultural jobs during the October-December period, followed by North Carolina (3.2 percent), Florida (3.1) and Kentucky (3.0).

“Rapid expansion of the auto industry in Tennessee the past decade has created many jobs in Tennessee and some other states, and we expect that to continue,” Murray said.

“There also is the hope that some of the substantial job losses in non-durable manufacturing are behind us.”

The Southeast has lost a huge number of jobs in textiles, apparel and leather the last 20 or 30 years, he said.

“We’re running out of companies to shut down,” Murray said.

“We’ve weeded out a lot of the more inefficient firms, and part of my logic — a Darwinistic view — is that the strongest firms have survived and we may experience fewer job losses in the months to come.”

While Tennessee’s economic growth has slowed in recent months, “we should have a good fourth quarter and be able without any difficulty to stave off any kind of a serious economic downturn, and we should still be able to create a significant number of jobs for Tennesseans.”

Contact: Dr. Matt Murray (423-974-5441)