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  • Nashville Region's Lower Cost of Living Means More Discretionary Income

    by Garrett Harper | Nov 04, 2013
    Nashville-area residents find a wide range of opportunities for enjoying our area's culture. In doing so, Nashvillians also spend their discretionary income in many ways.

    Discretionary income is the personal income that remains after you pay basic expenses, such as taxes, food and shelter. Recently released data for the third quarter 2013 shows Nashville’s cost of living for leisure activity (aggregated as “miscellaneous goods and services”) to be 95.6, or slightly below the national average of 100 for all metropolitan areas in the Council for Community and Economic Research's Cost-of-Living Index.

    This differential in lower-than-average costs means that residents of the Nashville region can put their discretionary income to good use. Our recent Nashville Region's Vital Signs report identified the top 10 leisure activities of area residents, which included going to movies, dining out and various sports and fitness hobbies.

    The Nashville region's population spends more than $1.9 billion a year in entertainment and recreation, or $3,098 per household per year, which is nearly exactly the level of the average American household's spending in that category. In fact, that category is among the highest in comparison to the typical American household, giving good evidence of the added discretionary income boost ...
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    Category: Research
  • Chamber Launches Regional Indicators Initiative

    by Garrett Harper | Oct 04, 2013
    vitalsignsThe Chamber’s Research Center is pleased to announce a new regional indicators project, Nashville Region’s Vital Signs, that was launched Oct. 1 with the release of a report covering key issues that impact the Nashville region’s economic well-being.

    The report is the initial step in a long-term process to create strategies aimed at managing our region’s future growth and development. The comprehensive report explores the vital signs that help determine the Nashville region’s strengths as well as its challenges in four broad areas: economic vitality, quality of place and life, human capital and regional effectiveness. The goal is to stimulate regional dialogue that will lead to prioritization of issues and action plans to address them.

    Among the key takeaways identified in the research report:
    • As Middle Tennessee continues to recover from the Great Recession, small business and entrepreneurial growth, as well as overall growth in business establishments, are important measures of economic vitality and must be monitored.
    • One of our region’s strongest advantages is our lower-than-average cost of living and higher-than-average per capita income, creating greater spending power and a compelling reason for people and businesses to locate here. Despite this competitive edge, Nashville-region households spend, on average, more ...
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    Category: Research
  • The Importance of Completing the Economic Census

    by Garrett Harper | Aug 08, 2013
    The 2012 Economic Census, the U.S. government’s official five-year measure of American business and the economy, is currently underway. Along with the familiar Census of Population and Housing, our federal government also conducts an extremely important and valuable census of businesses in our country. The results of this census provide enormous insight and data that benefit all businesses and communities. Published data cover more than 1,000 industries at the national and local levels, 15,000 products and services, every state, every county, 10,000 cities and towns and U.S. territories.

    The Economic Census is a mandatory survey that assures a complete picture of economic patterns in a given area. If your business has not yet responded to the Economic Census, there is still opportunity to do so. In fact, you may report online at

    For all the businesses that have responded to the Economic Census, your participation has played an important role in painting a complete picture of the economy of the Nashville area and of helping efforts to strengthen the environment for business to flourish in our region. The Chamber's Research Center relies on data such as that provided by the Economic Census to help us analyze, understand and market ...
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  • Chamber Research Finds Nashville's Music Industry is Nation's Strongest

    by Garrett Harper | Aug 02, 2013
    Earlier this week, the Music City Music Council and Nashville Mayor Karl Dean's office released the results of a comprehensive economic impact study of Nashville's music industry, produced by the Chamber's research staff.

    This portrait of Nashville's signature industry provides a data-driven foundation for the Music City Music Council in its role of building a healthy environment for music business to flourish in the region. Among other key conclusions, the study found that Nashville's music industry contributes $9.7 billion to the city's economy each year and accounts for an estimated 56,000 jobs within the Nashville area.

    Both the broad brush and the nuance of the music study yield new findings, insights and opportunity. Richard Florida, noted author on the creative class, featured the study in The Atlantic Cities. Numerous print and broadcast outlets around the nation also reported the findings, again validating Nashville's reputation as an international powerhouse of the entertainment industry.

    One of the Chamber's core competencies is to generate original research. The Chamber's research center is a full-service provider of data and analysis on economic, demographic and spatial topics. This study provides great evidence of that capability, as acknowledged locally and nationally.

    To download the full report, visit ...
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  • Statistics Show Steady Growth for Nashville MSA

    by Garrett Harper | Mar 21, 2013
    We know the Nashville region is growing quickly, and the recent addition of Maury County to the Nashville Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) based on the 2010 Census is more evidence of that fact. With the official inclusion of Maury County, the Nashville MSA now comprises 14 counties. The U.S. Office of Management and Budget establishes the criteria for inclusion of counties into metropolitan areas. MSAs have at least one urbanized area of 50,000 or more population, plus adjacent territory that has a high degree of social and economic integration with the core, as measured by commuting ties.

    From 2011 to 2012, the Nashville MSA ranked 12th in the nation among 388 metro areas for fastest growth, at a rate of 1.8 percent. While some regions grow consistently over long periods of time, others experience booms and busts that may be tied to commodity prices or particular industries, or that may be reflections of some type of local economic bubble growing or bursting. Nashville, however, is a metro that exhibits the steady, strong growth that allows it to perform well in a number of ways across time. Geographer Joel Kotkin, in writing about the fastest-growing areas for the most recent year, ...
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    Category: Research
  • Economic Census Is Due Next Month

    by Garrett Harper | Jan 10, 2013
    In November and December, more than 4 million American businesses, including 12,000 businesses in Davidson County, received 2012 Economic Census forms from the U.S. Census Bureau. By law, these businesses must respond by February 12.

    The Economic Census is the U.S. government's official five-year measure of American business and the economy. It is conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau, and response is required by law. Published data cover more than 1,000 industries at the national and local levels, 15,000 products and services, every state, every county, 10,000 cities and towns and U.S. territories. This Economic Census covers the 2012 calendar year ending in December.

    Federal Reserve Board Chairman Ben Bernanke has called this census "indispensable to understanding America's economy." Taken every five years, the Economic Census "assures the accuracy of the statistics we rely on for sound economic policy and for successful business planning," said Bernanke.

    Economic Census facts:
    • Companies will receive industry forms tailored to their size and primary business activity.
    • For the first time, businesses will be able to complete census forms electronically.
    • Businesses can find answers to most questions at
    Why an Economic Census?
    • Federal agencies rely on Economic Census data as the basis for key ...
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    Category: Research
  • Unemployment Levels Drop in Nashville Region

    by Garrett Harper | May 07, 2012
    As recovery from the national recession continues, economists look at the unemployment rate as one of the key indicators that measures the health of the economy.

    At the local level, recently released data on the unemployment picture in the Nashville region showcases continued strong improvement in our local economy. The March unemployment rate for the Nashville MSA was at 6.7 percent, down from 7.1 in February and 8.1 percent in March 2012. Davidson County tied for the second-lowest rate in the Nashville MSA, at 6.6 percent.

    The current number of unemployed people in the Nashville area, 55,400, represents the lowest level since December 2008. This pattern of resurgent economic growth aligns with the stronger performance that the southern U.S. continues to experience relative to the nation as a whole. Over the past year, the South has registered the largest of three measurable changes to the unemployment rate.

    As I reported in a previous blog post, the most recent 12 months reveal an employment gain of nearly 27,000 for the Nashville MSA, the best performance since early 2007. Through our Partnership 2020 economic development initiative, the Chamber also continues to work to create new jobs and spur growth and prosperity throughout ...
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  • National Research Shows a Trend Toward Smaller Businesses

    by Garrett Harper | Apr 18, 2012
    Businesses are getting smaller. Well, more precisely, the average size of businesses in the U.S. economy appears to be getting smaller. In new research from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, data indicate that the average firm size has declined from 17.3 workers in 2000 to 15.7 in 2011. The phenomenon of business’ average size shrinking has occurred in every year since 2000, irrespective of the upward or downward movement of the economy overall. This is in contrast to the 1990s -- and likely the 1970s and 1980s as well -- when average firm size grew consistently. Further declines in the past decade occurred across most industries. The key factor influencing this, according to study authors Eleanor Choi and James Spletzer, is that startup firms are beginning smaller and staying smaller, thus bringing the overall average down. They further speculate that new firms likely are more technologically oriented and may rely less on labor for their expansion.

    So how do these statistics bear out in Nashville? In 2000, the average business in Davidson County employed 21.4 workers. The average fell to 20.6 by 2009 (the most recent year of data available for local areas). While this trend locally is less ...
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    Category: Research
  • Economic Confidence High in Middle Tennessee

    by Garrett Harper | Apr 11, 2012
    In March, the U.S. Gallup Economic Confidence Index climbed to its highest level since January 2008. These new results give further evidence of the sustained recovery and the public’s increasingly positive perception of the economy. As recently as August 2011, the index was at a level approaching the lows during the depths of the Great Recession, mostly tied to the federal debt crisis.

    The resilience of Middle Tennessee's economy means our region mirrors, and even exceeds, national performance. As the Chamber's research indicated at the start of the recession, Nashville’s historical pattern across many business cycles is to grow very quickly and strongly coming out of a downturn, driven by our diverse economy and strong local workforce. The most recent 12 months reveal an employment gain of nearly 27,000 for the Nashville MSA, the best performance since early 2007. 2011 and 2012 are giving abundant evidence that Chamber research was on track as it predicted what direction the Nashville economy would take and what businesses could expect over the course of the recession and beyond.

    Recent rankings from the Brookings Institute, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Gallup Job Creation Index and U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis also show that Nashville is ...
  • Nashville is a National Leader in Job Growth

    by Garrett Harper | Feb 10, 2012
    As reported earlier this week in the Nashville Business Journal, Nashville ranks 12th in the nation in job growth over the past 10 years.

    This is just the latest in a string of recent rankings that point to sustained economic growth for our city and region, including a Brookings Institution report that places Nashville among the world's top 100 cities for economic growth during 2011.

    Chamber research indicators also support this trend. 2011 ended with Nashville’s strongest annual job gain in five years and the lowest unemployment level in number and percentage in 35 months.

    A focus on growing jobs underpins the Chamber's entire economic development strategy, and we are working to continue to make Middle Tennessee one of the most promising economies in America.

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