MURFREESBORO, Tenn. – Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, experts have struggled to understand exactly what is happening with the U.S. economy. In the spring of 2020, many observers feared massive job loss and economic hardship, but robust federal stimulus helped stem the worst effects. Through much of 2021, the labor market experienced an unprecedented combination of relatively high unemployment, high numbers of job vacancies, and record numbers of job switches. Better-than-expected economic performance throughout the pandemic has given more households the means to spend on big purchases like houses or durable goods—leading to massive price increases in many categories.
Today, the economy does show some worrying signs. Since the start of the year, the U.S. stock market has suffered staggering losses. Inflation has dominated headlines for almost a year, with the Consumer Price Index rising at its fastest rate in decades. The U.S. Federal Reserve has embarked on a series of interest rate hikes to cool demand in the economy, which should reduce inflation but could also send the economy into a recession.
But by many other key indicators, the overall economic picture is strong. Real GDP grew by 5.7% over 2021, powered by strong consumer demand and a rebound effect for many industries after a difficult 2020. The unemployment rate has fallen to 3.6%, just above the pre-pandemic level of 3.5%, and the tight labor market has helped push workers’ wages higher. Thanks to increased savings and strong investment returns during much of the pandemic, more entrepreneurs have had the resources to start new businesses.
Some factors in a recent study suggest that the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic was a significant but temporary disruption to a strong run of economic growth. Business applications are up 60% over their numbers in early 2017, while total GDP has risen by 27.3% over the same span, and per capita income is up by more than a quarter, from $50,765 to $63,759. All of these positive signs for economic growth have happened despite relatively flat growth in the overall population and number of Americans who are employed, which suggests that businesses and their employees are becoming more productive over time.
In the study, Nevada and Idaho had the highest and best employment numbers alongside increased population growth last year (2021). Tennessee, at number eight on the list, was close to both of the top two states.
Despite some of the negative, several key indicators show the overall economic picture is strong. The tight labor market has helped push workers’ wages higher. Thanks to increased savings and strong investment returns during much of the pandemic, more entrepreneurs have had the resources to start new businesses.
Tennessee received an overall composite score of 73.88 with a positive GDP growth rating of +13.2%, where as the national average was a GDP rating of +10.1%. New business growth in the Volunteer State comes in at +24.8%, the national average of new business growth rings the bell at +23.4%. Standing out event more is the population growth that Tennessee has seen over the last year. Tennessee’s overall population has grown by +0.8%, where as the national average is +0.2%. The per capita income has also climbed for Tennesseans by +8%. The national average increase comes in at +7.2%.
Nevada had a GDP of 12.9% and an employment growth rating of 6.8%. Nevada's new business growth was 30.7%. Their per capita income growth rate came in at 7.5% with an overall population growth of 1%.
Montana, ranking at number two on the list, had 15.1% GDP growth, 4.6% employment growth and a per capita income growth rating of 6.9%. Montana's new business growth was 26.8%. Their overall population growth was 1.6%.
Number three on the list was Idaho with a GDP growth rate of 12.5%. Idaho's per capita income growth rate was 6.7% and their overall population growth rate was 2.8%. Idaho's new business growth was 28%.
Focusing on Rutherford County, TN Growth: When specifically looking at Rutherford County, the rise in population has been solid since 1930. The most recent U.S. Census report shows that Rutherford County has approximately 355-thousand residents and remains one of the fastest growing counties in the Volunteer State. In fact, a 2019 World Population Review confirms out of all Tennessee counties with a minimum of 300-thousand residents (Shelby, Davidson, Knox, Hamilton, and Rutherford Counties), Rutherford County has seen the highest population growth.
Between 2010 and 2020, Rutherford County grew by 76,215 residents. In 2010, the population stood at 263,708 residents. In 2020, that count grew to 339,923 residents. Going further back, Rutherford County recorded a 122.4% increase in population between 1990 and 2010, meaning Rutherford County went from 118,570 residents in 1990 to 263,708 residents in 2010.
While the growth over the past 82-years has been positive, that wasn't always the case. There was a 50-year period that lacked positive growth in Rutherford County and instead recorded decreases in the population. According to U.S. Census records, the population decreased by nearly 4,500 residents between 1880 and 1930.
In 1880, the population in Rutherford was 36,741 residents. By 1930, that number had dropped to 32, 286 residents. See more population counts for Rutherford County's past HERE.
More on GDP Nationwide and in Tennessee: Read more details about Tennessee and other states at FilterBuy.com/Resources/States-with-fastest-growing-economies/. Note: GDP is short for gross domestic product.