Economic & Market Profile

Understanding emerging real estate trends, demographics, and economic conditions is an important step to identifying where and when growth is occurring in the region and for land use/transportation planning for communities. The MPO tracks and analyzes several key components of the regional economy in order to develop a multi-jurisdictional transportation plan that supports and promotes regional economic goals.

The following provides a quick snapshot of how the Nashville region, as defined by the 13-county Metropolitan Statistical Area, compares to other region's of similar size throughout the United States for quality of life, business climate, and labor force.

Quality of Life

Even more so today than in the past, non-economic factors play a role in where residents, employees and employers want to be located. There are several factors that contribute to a metropolitan region's quality of life. These factors include, but are not limited to: cost of living, quality of schools, climate, transportation/infrastructure, recreational amenities and parks, entertainment options and cultural attractions and quality of the neighborhoods.

In addition to its low cost of living, the Nashville region enjoys a high quality of life with its affordable housing in a range of diverse neighborhoods, education, arts and music, seasonal / mild climate, nationally recognized amateur and professional sporting events (Tennessee Titans NFL football and Nashville Predators NHL hockey), abundant parks and recreational areas and lively cultural base, including a world class symphony.

Recent quality of life accolades that the Nashville region has received include:

The following table provides an overall cost of living index as well as indices for major basic costs for the Nashville MSA and several other major U.S. metropolitan areas. Overall, the cost of living in Nashville region is below the national average (100) and all of the comparison regions with the exception of the Knoxville, Tennessee region. Housing costs in Nashville (78.3) are particularly low compared to the national average, and the region has relatively lower costs in groceries, housing, utilities, transportation, health care and miscellaneous goods than most of the other comparison regions.

Cost of Living Index for Nashville MSA and Benchmark Regions (2007)

City Index Groceries Housing Utilities Transportation Health Care Misc Goods

Lexington, KY

98.2 95.4 90.1 109.0 97.3 99.4 102.7
Louisville, KY 97.5 89.6 89.6 109.1 110.2 97.3 99.8
Columbus, OH 97.4 96.3 95.9 102.3 103.5 104.1 94.9
Austin, TX 96.2 92.3 87.1 91.5 100.0 99.3 104.9
Atlanta, GA 96.1 98.7 91.8 84.9 103.5 103.4 98.7
Birmingham, AL 92.1 96.6 77.6 98.8 96.1 99.4 98.0
Raleigh-Durham, NC 89.8 96.6 79.8 90.5 93.4 96.3 93.4
Charlotte, NC 89.7 99.1 75.6 83.2 92.3 104.3 96.8
Memphis, TN 89.3 90.4 76.5 83.8 92.2 97.1 99.0
Nashville, TN 88.1 90.5 78.3 87.7 94.3 85.5 93.8
Knoxville, TN 87.0 89.5 75.2 89.8 87.2 89.3 94.5

Source: ACCRA Cost of Living Index, 2007

The Nashville MSA rated relatively lower than comparable regions in terms of the quality of public schools in 2007. However, it did rank above one of its major competitors, Atlanta, another large and economically prominent metropolitan area in the Southeast region.

Public Schools Quality Ratings (2007)

Metropolitan Area Rating
Raleigh-Durham, NC 91
Austin, TX 80
Knoxville, TN 54
Columbus, OH 51
Birmingham, AL 41
Nashville, TN 35
Atlanta, GA 28

Source: Expansion Management, Logistics Today, 2004

Business Climate

Many factors contribute to the business climate of a metropolitan area. Expansion Management and Logistics Today magazine, two publications covering national site location and business expansion, conduct a periodic analysis and rating of major metro areas across the U.S. called the 5-Star Business Opportunity Metro Ratings. These ratings provide a measure of each metro area's strengths and weaknesses in terms of different factors contributing to an attractive business climate for relocating or expanding firms.

Select "5-Star Business Opportunity" Metro Ratings* (2007)

Metropolitan Area Overall Rating Logistics Infrastructure Healthcare Costs Taxes & Govt. Spending Reputation Among Site Consultants
Austin, TX 99 83 32 99 97
Raleigh-Durham, NC 99 72 88 75 99
Knoxville, TN 97 85 65 92 98
Nashville, TN 95 93 65 92 98
Birmingham, AL 93 94 77 59 94
Atlanta, GA 90 96 8 80 98
Columbus, OH 88 92 63 17 88
* All ratings are percentile with 99 being the highest & 1 being the lowest

Source: Expansion Management, Logistics Today, 2007

Among benchmark regions, Nashville rates average among its peers with a 95 out of 99 rating. Nashville rates above the Birmingham, Atlanta and Columbus regions. The Nashville metro is rated highly in Logistics Infrastructure (third behind Atlanta and Birmingham), Taxes & Government Spending (tied for second with Knoxville behind the Austin region), and Reputation Among Site Consultants (tied for second with Knoxville and Atlanta behind the Raleigh-Durham region).

Labor Force

Factors related to the quality and cost of the labor force area are also important to the economic and market prospects of a metropolitan region. In terms of median hourly wages ($14.50) and mean annual salaries ($37,970), the Nashville area is comparable with benchmark regions such as Birmingham, AL and Louisville, KY. Median hourly wages range from $13.53 (Knoxville, TN) to $17.36 (Raleigh-Durham, NC). Mean annual salaries range from $37,350 (Lexington, KY) to $46,540 (Raleigh-Durham, NC). With midrange wages and salaries, Nashville has the dual appeal of a moderate labor costs for businesses and relatively competitive compensation to appeal to potential new employees.

Cost of Labor - Nashville MSA and Benchmark Regions 2007

Metropolitan Area Median Hourly Mean Annual
Raleigh-Durham, NC $17.36 $46,540
Columbus, OH $15.56 $40,770
Atlanta, GA $15.48 $42,170
Charlotte, NC $15.31 $41,200
Austin, TX $14.88 $41,330
Nashville, TN $14.50 $37,970
Louisville, KY $14.36 $37,410
Birmingham, AL $14.25 $37,700
Lexington, KY $14.19 $37,350
Knoxville, TN $13.53 $35,740
Memphis, TN $13.81 $36,870

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics 2007

The education level of workers is a major factor contributing to the quality of a region's workforce. Exhibit 2-5 shows the "College Educated Worker Ratings" component from the Expansion Management/Logistics Today metro business opportunity analysis. The Nashville metropolitan area has a rating of 84 of 99, putting it just behind Atlanta (89) and Columbus (88), and above Knoxville (81) and Birmingham (78).

College Educated Worker Ratings (2007)

Metropolitan Area Rating
Raleigh-Durham, NC 93
Austin, TX 91
Atlanta, GA 89
Columbus, OH 88
Nashville, TN 84
Knoxville, TN 81
Birmingham, AL 78

Source: Expansion Management, Logistics Today, 2007

Taken together, the Nashville region's cost of labor and worker education ratings make the region competitive in terms of having a relatively low-cost and an educated workforce. These conditions can position the Nashville MSA for further job and economic growth in the future by providing an appealing environment for both employees and employers.

For More Information

Nicholas Lindeman
Economic & Systems Data Analyst

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