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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (Feb. 13, 2020) – Tennessee’s overall economy is strong, but our state’s working families face financial challenges, and our once-historic leadership on civic engagement needs revitalization, according to the 2020 State of Our State dashboard ThinkTennessee released today.

The dashboard shows how Tennessee ranks nationally across 100 different indicators. It provides policymakers and the public with an at-a-glance look at where Tennessee is doing well and highlights areas where progress is still needed.  

“When Tennessee cast the deciding vote to ratify the 19th Amendment a century ago, we cemented our place in history as a leader in civic engagement,” said Shanna Singh Hughey, president of ThinkTennessee. “But the latest dashboard rankings show that, when it comes to civic engagement and areas like family economic security, we have a lot of work to do if we’re going to resume that leadership role.”

Key findings:

  • Civic Engagement: Tennessee’s voter turnout rate is one of the lowest in the nation. Tennessee ranked 44th in voter turnout for the midterm election in 2018 and 49th for the presidential election in 2016. Despite our state’s rich civic history, Tennessee also trails its peers when it comes to voter registration among women (42nd).
  • Working Families: While there are signs that Tennessee’s economy is strong overall, working families continue to face financial challenges. Tennessee has a comparatively low cost of living (7th) and high GDP growth (13th), but more of our families are experiencing economic hardship, including poverty (40 states do better), high medical debt (44 states do better), student loan holders in default (34 states do better) and median household income (39 states do better).
  • Criminal Justice: From public safety to rehabilitation, the dashboard underscores the need to further reform Tennessee’s criminal justice system, especially with respect to reentry. Tennessee is one of the most restrictive states when it comes to the disenfranchisement of individuals with a felony conviction (48th). Our state also has one of the highest rates of recidivism (40th).

The State of Our State dashboard is part of ThinkTennesseee’s work to equip policymakers with tools to address the challenges of today and move our state forward. ThinkTennessee also issues regular policy briefs, which provide important context and highlight pragmatic policy solutions.

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