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.

Financial Well-Being

Typical Wages for Workers with Highschool Education


Carbon Dioxide Emissions

Deficient Bridges

GDP Growth

Air Pollution

Public School Teacher Salary

Hispanic/Latino Incarceration Rate


Black Incarceration Rate

Median Household Income

Adults with Heart Disease

Youth Unemployment

Representation of People of Color in Elected Office

Seniors (65+) Voter Turnout

Public Library Funding

Food Insecurity

Childhood Obesity

Student Loan Holders in Default in Communities of Color


New Businesses

Black Voter Registration

Hispanic/Latino Uninsured Rate

Income Inequality

Property Crime

Black Post-High School Educational Attainment

Solar Energy Systems

Opioid Prescriptions

Working Age Employment Rate

Provisional Ballots Cast

Low-Income Working Families with Kids

Adults Without a High School Diploma

Adult Obesity

Drug Deaths

Women’s Incarceration Rate

Home Ownership

Voter Registrations Rejected

Hispanic/Latino Fourth-Grade Reading Proficiency

Cost of Living

Typical Wages for Hispanic Workers

Households without Computers or Smartphones

Voter Registration (Midterm Election)

Voter Turnout – Women

Energy Expenditures Per Capita

Youth (18-24) Voter Registration

Low Birthweight


Seniors Avoiding Care Due to Cost

Women Judges

Typical Wages for Workers with Bachelors Education or Higher


Affordable Rental Shortage

Seniors Living in Poverty

Women Living in Poverty

Food-Insecure Seniors

Hispanic/Latino Voter Registration

Children Receiving Public Assistance

Rental Protections


Violent Crime

Student-Teacher Ratio

Average Commute

Hispanic/Latino Post-High School Educational Attainment

Children in Food-Insecure Households

Women’s Uninsured Rate

Voter Registration (Presidential Election)

Commuters Taking Transit to Work

Auto Loan Delinquency Rate

Low-Income Uninsured Rate

Voter Registration – Women

Adults Who Smoke

Children in Poverty

Mental Health Providers



Black Adults Avoiding Care Due to Cost

Uninsured Rate

Nursing Home Quality

Able-Bodied Seniors

High School Graduation

Youth (18-24) Voter Turnout

Black Voter Turnout

Unbanked Households

Student Loan Holders in Default

Medical Debt in Collections for Communities of Color

Electricity Prices

Low-Wage Jobs

Fourth-Grade Reading Proficiency

Cost-Burdened Homeowners

Green Jobs

Auto Loan Delinquency Rate in Communities of Color

Medical Debt in Collections

Adults on Probation & Parole

Children in Households with High Housing Cost Burden

Hispanic/Latino Voter Turnout

Broadband Subscriptions

Cost of Childcare (Infants)

Bankruptcy Rate

Women Avoiding Care Due to Cost

Uninsured Children

Adults with Diabetes

Leed Certified Buildings

Black Uninsured Rate

Infant Mortality

Typical Wages for Black Workers

Black Fourth-Grade Reading Proficiency

Voter Turnout (Midterm Election)

Labor Force Participation Gender Gap

Juvenile Detention Rate

Road Quality

Broadband Access (25 MBPS)

Power Grid Reliability

Student Loan Debt

Cost-Burdened Extremely Low-Income Renters

Hispanic/Latino Adults Avoiding Care Due to Cost

Typical Wages for Working Women

Post-High School Educational Attainment

Voter Turnout (Presidential Election)

Adults Avoiding Care Due to Cost

Extremely Low-Income Renters

Seniors (65+) Voter Registration

Population Growth

Gigabyte Internet Availability

Highway Traffic Fatalities

Women Holding Elected Office

Rural Broadband Access

Felon Disenfranchisement

Seniors in Good Health

Young Children Not in School

Wage Gap

Incarceration Rate

Drinking Water Quality

Children’s Medicaid/Chip Participation Rate

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.