Nashville Area Chamber Releases Vital Signs 2020 Report


NASHVILLE, Tenn. (April 22, 2021) – The Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce released its 2020 Nashville Region’s Vital Signs report entitled “Wisdom of Hindsight.” The report is developed by the Chamber’s Policy and Research Center in partnership with the Greater Nashville Regional Council (GNRC) which serves as the federally designated Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) for the Nashville area.

The Vital Signs 2020 report tracks existing and emerging issues that impact the Middle Tennessee region’s economic well-being and quality of life. Vital Signs considers each issue and pairs data from the Census and other sources with original survey data from a survey of Middle Tennessee residents – providing an analysis of the issues before the region and how Middle Tennesseans feel about those issues.

This year’s report addresses four issues impacting the Middle Tennessee region – Workforce and Economic Development, Housing, Transportation and Infrastructure. With the wisdom of hindsight, the report explores these issues through the lens of COVID-19 and its impacts.

“The pandemic and resulting recession have laid bare challenges in workforce development, housing, transportation and infrastructure that existed before COVID-19 and have been exacerbated by it,” said Ralph Schulz, president and CEO of the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce. “The year’s events have also opened new windows of opportunity for recovery and growth. Understanding the trends, based on data and Middle Tennesseans’ impressions of what is next, is the work of Vital Signs.”

A few key issues from Vital Signs 2020 related to COVID-19 impacts:

  • Prior to COVID-19, the Nashville Area MSA’s unemployment rate was 2.5%, but that overall figure masked an unemployment rate among Blacks that was two times that of whites. During COVID-19, unemployment among Whites peaked at 10.3%, but the unemployment rate among Blacks peaked at 21.8%.
  • The 2020 Vital Signs survey revealed that 50.7% of respondents indicated that childcare impacts their ability to work which is more troubling when understood with estimates that Tennessee parents who encounter childcare problems lose a combined $850 million in earnings each year.
  • Almost 37% of Middle Tennessee residents responding to the 2020 Vital Signs survey are considered “housing cost-burdened,” meaning they spend over 30% of their household income on their mortgage or rent.
  • Even in 2020, over 600,000 Tennesseans still lack access to quality high-speed internet and 27% of Tennesseans have no internet subscription.

The challenges to the region throughout 2020 – tornados, COVID-19, and the downtown Nashville bombing – undoubtedly had a profound impact on the economic well-being of our state, region and communities.

Consequently, the Vital Signs 2020 resident survey asked Middle Tennesseans about their predictions for the future and found that the region’s residents are hopeful but believe it will be some time before their lives are back to normal. Forty-one percent of Middle Tennessee residents felt the economy would be slightly or much better in 2021, but 53% thought it would be over a year before life returned to normal.

In addition to the support of the Greater Nashville Regional Council, the Chamber would like to thank its Vital Signs Supporting Sponsors: Barge Design Solutions, Bradley and FirstBank, its Technology Partner: Atiba, and its Media Partners: The Tennessean | LOCALiQ. Funding for the report is provided in part by grants from the Federal Highway Administration, Federal Transit Administration and Tennessee Department of Transportation.

To view the report, visit www.nashvillechamber.com/vitalsigns.


About Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce and Partnership 2020

The Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce is Middle Tennessee’s largest business federation, representing more than 2,000 member companies. Belong, engage, lead, prosper embodies the Chamber's focus on creating economic prosperity by facilitating community leadership. Established in 1990 as an economic development and community enhancement initiative of the Chamber, Partnership 2020 is a regional cooperative dedicated to making Middle Tennessee among the nation’s best places to live, work and do business. Partnership 2020 is supported by a diverse group of public and private companies as well as governmental agencies from the organization’s 10-county service area. The work of the Chamber is supported by its members, Partnership 2020 investors and sponsors; the Chamber’s Pivotal Partners (a partnership at the highest level for all Chamber programs and events) are Delek US Holdings, Bass, Berry & Sims, BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee, Community Health Systems, Gresham Smith and Regions. For more information, visit www.nashvillechamber.com.

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