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    New data shows Memphis' optimism surging — and its economy strengthening

    Jacob Steimer

    New data released this month indicates Memphians are becoming significantly more optimistic about the local economy and that they likely have good reason to be.


    A May survey by the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis found that 62 percent of surveyed Memphis businesspeople expect the local economy to be "better" or "slightly better" in the coming year than it was in the past year — about 20 percent more than in November.


    It was the first time since at least May 2014 that business leaders in the Memphis metropolitan area expressed more confidence than the average businessperson in the St. Louis Fed's region, which includes Lousiville, St. Louis and Little Rock. (This past pessimism led to a February call for Memphians to be more confident.)


    Other new data from the St. Louis Fed shows why Memphians might be gaining optimism. An index of the Memphis metro area's total economic conditions (based on 12 variables) grew by 86 percent between December and March — faster growth than in Nashville, Atlanta, St. Louis or Little Rock.


    According to the St. Louis Fed's most recent Beige Book, part of the Mid-South's recent success is based on increased consumer spending. The area's farms are also doing well thanks to "drier weather allowing farmers to catch up on spring planting after a wet start to the season," the report said.