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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — The Tennessee Vols football team and the state’s economy experienced the same type of blips this fall but remain relatively strong, a University of Tennessee economist analogized Monday.

The Vols suffered their only loss in September, and the Tennessee index of leading economic indicators took a hit the same month.

“A team that is performing very well and has a strong winning season on occasion will incur a loss, and that’s what Tennessee’s economy has done,” Dr. Matt Murray said.

The latest Tennessee index of leading economic indicators, a barometer of conditions 6-9 months in the future, fell 7.8 percent — continuing its up-and-down performance throughout 1995.

“All components of the index suffered setbacks in September,” Murray said. “But the drop does not indicate an impending economic downturn.”

Sales, mortgages, initial unemployment claims, construction contracts and the U.S. index all retreated for the month.

But non-agricultural employment surged in September 6.8 percent to its highest level in a year, suggesting “underlying strength in the Tennessee economy,” Murray said.

Tennessee’s economy should continue to grow into next spring but not at the higher rates experienced earlier this year, Murray said. Likewise, since the Florida loss, the Vol football team has compiled a 10-1 record but won by narrow margins in its last two games against Kentucky and Vanderbilt.

Of the state’s five metropolitan areas, only Memphis had an improved September index.

“Memphis had new business starts, new incorporations, employment grew, and first-time claims for unemployment insurance fell,” Murray said.

The Knoxville, Chattanooga, Nashville and Tri-Cities indexes slipped.

Contact: Matt Murray (423-974-2225)