State of Our State

How Does Tennessee Stack Up?

ThinkTennessee’s State of Our State dashboard, now in its 6th year, provides a snapshot of how our state ranks nationally across 135 of the indicators that matter most to Tennesseans.

The Tennessee economy is rapidly expanding. But to date, our economic success has not yet translated into greater economic opportunity and security for all Tennesseans.

Indeed, while our latest dashboard finds improvements in our national rank on statewide economic indicators from GDP growth (in just three years we’ve risen from #24 in the country to #1–a rate of 8.6% in 2021!) to poverty to unemployment, metrics at the individual level, including median household income, debt levels, and cost-burdened households among others have declined or worsened.

Importantly, state-level economic successes did not happen by accident. Rather, the improvement in these metrics is a direct result of concerted statewide policy efforts and prioritization – illuminating a path forward to achieve similar progress on many of the affordability, infrastructure, and health challenges continuing to plague our state’s working families.

As Tennessee moves deeper into this period of economic expansion, the 2023 dashboard points to several areas where the scope of policymaking should prioritize expanding access to opportunities for all Tennesseans.

Interested in ideas about how to move our state forward? Our research shares success stories from other states and includes pragmatic solutions about how Tennessee can continue to make progress.

Note: For the sake of consistency, rankings have been standardized so low numbers always reflect positive outcomes. In other words, being ranked first is always better than being ranked 50th. Additional detail on research methodology can be found below the rankings.

Low-Income Uninsured Rate

Extremely Low-Income Renters

Food-Insecure Seniors

Carbon Dioxide Emissions

Voter Registration (Midterm Election)

Children in Households with High Housing Cost Burden

Labor Force Participation Gender Gap

Underemployment

Adult Obesity

Student Loan Holders in Default in Communities of Color

Cost-Burdened Homeowners

Food Insecurity

Black Voter Turnout

Felon Disenfranchisement

Foreclosures

Adults Avoiding Care Due to Cost

Medical Debt in Collections

Highway Traffic Fatalities

Adults Who Smoke

Typical Wages for Workers with Highschool Education

Broadband Access (25 MBPS)

High School Graduation

Mental Health Providers

Hispanic/Latino Fourth-Grade Reading Proficiency

Financial Well-Being

Cost-Burdened Extremely Low-Income Renters

Average Commute

Black Post-High School Educational Attainment

Unemployment

Representation of People of Color in Elected Office

Hispanic/Latino Post-High School Educational Attainment

Public School Teacher Salary

Student Loan Debt

Black Uninsured Rate

Low-Wage Jobs

Youth (18-24) Voter Registration

Working Age Employment Rate

Auto Loan Delinquency Rate

Homelessness

Women Holding Elected Office

Adults on Probation & Parole

Provisional Ballots Cast

Childhood Obesity

Typical Wages for Workers with Bachelors Education or Higher

Children in Poverty

Broadband Subscriptions

Student-Teacher Ratio

Public Library Funding

Adults with Heart Disease

Drinking Water Quality

Energy Expenditures Per Capita

Youth (18-24) Voter Turnout

Median Household Income

Able-Bodied Seniors

Post-High School Educational Attainment

Air Pollution

Commuters Taking Transit to Work

Student Loan Holders in Default

Hispanic/Latino Adults Avoiding Care Due to Cost

Unbanked Households

Population Growth

Opioid Prescriptions

Voter Turnout (Midterm Election)

Black Adults Avoiding Care Due to Cost

Bankruptcy Rate

Typical Wages for Hispanic Workers

Medical Debt in Collections for Communities of Color

Low-Income Working Families with Kids

Affordable Rental Shortage

Seniors Living in Poverty

Hispanic/Latino Voter Registration

Road Quality

Green Jobs

Recidivism

Violent Crime

Property Crime

Young Children Not in School

Gigabyte Internet Availability

GDP Growth

Juvenile Detention Rate

Electricity Prices

Auto Loan Delinquency Rate in Communities of Color

Black Voter Registration

Voter Turnout – Women

Income Inequality

Women Avoiding Care Due to Cost

Women Judges

Voter Registrations Rejected

Seniors Avoiding Care Due to Cost

Women Living in Poverty

Uninsured Rate

Rural Broadband Access

Children Receiving Public Assistance

Children’s Medicaid/Chip Participation Rate

Poverty

Households without Computers or Smartphones

Youth Unemployment

Incarceration Rate

New Businesses

Patents

Seniors (65+) Voter Registration

Hispanic/Latino Incarceration Rate

Cost of Childcare (Infants)

Rental Protections

Seniors in Good Health

Deficient Bridges

Hispanic/Latino Voter Turnout

Nursing Home Quality

Power Grid Reliability

Seniors (65+) Voter Turnout

Hispanic/Latino Uninsured Rate

Uninsured Children

Leed Certified Buildings

Infant Mortality

Black Fourth-Grade Reading Proficiency

Voter Registration – Women

Voter Registration (Presidential Election)

Children in Food-Insecure Households

Adults Without a High School Diploma

Volunteerism

Women’s Uninsured Rate

Wage Gap

Home Ownership

Solar Energy Systems

Fourth-Grade Reading Proficiency

Drug Deaths

Low Birthweight

Black Incarceration Rate

Voter Turnout (Presidential Election)

Women’s Incarceration Rate

Typical Wages for Black Workers

Adults with Diabetes

Cost of Living

Typical Wages for Working Women

Notes on Methodology:

Metrics were compiled using publicly available data and are current as of Jan. 10th, 2023. Where possible, we favored U.S. government data over other sources for consistency and reliability.

Some debt- and voting-related indicators will be updated throughout the year as newer information becomes available.