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May 21, 2023 | Tom Ballard

Milken Institute ranks seven Tennessee cities on performance

Nashville places fourth in nation among large cities - a Tier 1 ranking, while Knoxville earns a Tier 2 designation and Chattanooga a Tier 3.

The Best-Performing Cities Index from the Milken Institute was issued last week, and Nashville ranks #4 among all large cities in the nation. That’s behind Provo, UT; Austin, TX; and Raleigh, NC. Other top 10 cities in the south included Wilmington, NC (#7), Fayetteville, AR (#9), and the Palm Bay area of Florida (#10).

The rankings are based on labor market performance, access to economic opportunities, and high-tech impact. Nashville’s job growth numbers were indeed impressive: 10.8 percent over the past five years, 5.0 percent the past year, and 5.9 percent in the short term.

How did other Tennessee large cities perform? Knoxville was categorized as a Tier 2 city, Chattanooga was deemed a Tier 3 community, and Memphis and Kingsport-Bristol as Tier 4s. For smaller cities, both Jackson and Johnson City earned Tier 2 designations.

Their specific performance on job growth was as follows:

  • Chattanooga – 5.2 percent, 3.1 percent and 1.7 percent respectively.
  • Jackson – 1.3 percent, 2.3 percent and 2.2 percent respectively.
  • Johnson City – 3.4 percent, 3.9 percent and 3.3 percent respectively.
  • Kingsport-Bristol – Negative 3.5 percent, 1.3 percent and 2.0 percent respectively.
  • Knoxville – 4.3 percent, 3.7 percent and 4.5 percent respectively.
  • Memphis – .5 percent, 2.4 percent and 3.2 percent respectively.

The full report in PDF format can be downloaded here.

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