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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — The economic forecast for Tennessee through mid-summer is mixed with alternating periods of modest growth and decline, a University of Tennessee economist said Thursday.

 “It’s not necessarily good news,” Dr. Matt Murray of UT-Knoxville’s Center for Business and Economic Research, said. “The economy slowed as we closed out 1996 and now we are looking at prospects for moderating and slower economic growth.”

“While a contraction in the economy does not appear imminent, we project alternating periods of modest growth and decline into the summer.”

 Murray said the forecast was based on measures taken in December of certain economic indicators.

One of those indicators was new claims for Tennessee unemployment compensation, which reached a seven-month high in December with an increase of 3,800 claims, Murray said.

 Other indicators:

 * Taxable mortgages, down in December for a second consecutive month, fell at a seasonally adjusted annualized rate of 67.2 percent.

 * Construction potentials, a measure of projects scheduled to break ground within 60 days, also declined.

 * Inflation-adjusted taxable sales were up 5.3 percent on a seasonally adjusted basis.

 * The U.S. leading composite index was up 1.5 percent on a seasonally adjusted basis.

 Murray said Tennessee’s economy continues to outpace the nation’s in many areas, including the labor market. Non-agricultural employment in the state gained 7,300 additional jobs in December, he said.

A complete analysis of the December economic indices is in the Tennessee Economic Review, a publication of the CBER.

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