KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — In the first Money Talks of 2023, experts with the University of Tennessee share the key takeaways from the economic report to the Governor.

Larry Kessler, a Research Associate Professor for the Boyd Center for Business and Economic Research at the University of Tennessee, visited with WATE 6 On Your Side News at Midday to explain what the economic report to the Governor is.

“This is an annual report that we release toward the end of December every year and it provides an economic forecast for the state of Tennessee looking at how we think the economy is going to perform over the next few years,” Kessler said.

He also said they do an economic update looking at factors like employment growth and population trends to see how the state performed relative to the nation throughout the year.

One of the key takeaways from the report is how Tennessee could fair in relation to the rest of the nation in the case of a recession.

“We think that Tennessee would hopefully avoid a recession in large part due to the strong influx of new residents that have moved into the state in recent years,” he said.

Kessler also shed some light on the state of the labor force in Tennessee.

“Tennessee continues to remain pretty strong, so right now we have about 100,000 more workers on payrolls in Tennessee than we did prior to the pandemic,” said Kessler. “That being said, there are still a ton of job openings and unfilled positions throughout the state, there’s actually been a shortage of workers for about the past two years now.”

Kessler also stated that even if every unemployed Tennessean who is actively searching for a job found a job today, there’d still be about 120,000 unfilled positions throughout the state.

Moving into 2023, Kessler spoke about the factors that will play a role in furthering Tennessee’s growth. He said that will come down to the workforce quality.

“A healthier workforce can usually work more hours and take fewer sick days, while a more educated workforce on average will earn higher incomes and can spend more money throughout the economy leading to further economic growth,” he said.