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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Slower growth, yes, but the University of Tennessee’s latest monthly barometer does not indicate an economic downturn for Tennessee this year.

UT’s monthly index of leading indicators, which measures the state’s economy six to nine months in the future, fell in April for the third time in four months.

However, Matt Murray, who compiles and analyzes the data for the UT-Knoxville Center for Business and Economic Research, said Monday he remains encouraged by the underlying strength of the Tennessee economy.

“Despite the weakness of the index, the Tennessee economy continues to create new jobs, is moving in the right direction and should continue to do so through 1995,” Murray said.

Four of the index’s five components were negative, “but we’re not seeing any of those components fall sharply,” the UT economist said.

Construction contracts, sales, mortgages and the U.S. leading index fell. The positive component was a drop in new claims for unemployment benefits.

“We’ll continue to see some ups and downs in the index. We’re seeing the economy slow down a bit this year, but we’re not likely to experience a serious downturn or recession.”

Although the state’s unemployment rate rose in April and May, Tennessee continues to have near full-employment, Murray said.

“Tennessee’s labor markets remain quite strong and continue to create jobs, and that’s a big plus,” Murray said. The state’s non-agricultural employment grew 1.9 percent in April for its fourth consecutive monthly increase, he said.

The indexes for three of the state’s five metropolitan fell in April. Nashville, Memphis and Chattanooga dropped. The Knoxville index, after three months of decline, improved. The Tri-Cities index also improved.

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Contact: Matt Murray (615-974-5441)