Tennessee Heading Quickly Toward Full Job Recovery

July 28, 2021
Author: ThinkWhy Analyst

The beautiful belt buckle state of Tennessee is well on its way to full job recovery with some of the state’s largest metros expected to recover in 2022, ahead of the U.S. recovery in 2023.

Nashville jobs just down by 2.6% and will recover in 2022. Tennessee overall is recovering well.

Big job gains of more than 22,000 in June brought the state just 64,700 jobs shy of total job recovery.

However, these gains were not evenly spread across industries. Leading the recovery is Professional and Business Services, up 1.4% or 6,200 jobs compared to February 2020. This is followed by the Trade, Transportation and Utilities category, which has also grown, adding 1,700 jobs.

Industries that have the greatest number of jobs still impacted are Construction by 5,000, Manufacturing by 7,100, and Leisure and Hospitality, which remains down by 12.4% or 43,600 jobs.

From a productivity perspective, industries experiencing the biggest growth are Retail Trade, followed by Professional, Scientific and Technical Services, then Transportation and Warehousing. The industry lagging the most is Non-durable Goods Manufacturing.

Breaking It Down by Major Metro

  • Employee resignations will remain high in the near-term as employees continue to change jobs for higher compensation

  • Hiring will remain robust, but maintaining June's pace will be challenging

  • Leisure and Hospitality, Healthcare and Hospitality are expected to see some of the largest job gains

Whether targeting business development opportunities or transferrable skills for open roles, talent acquisition professionals will want to keep their eye on job and industry peformance across the state's major metros.


Knoxville is leading the major cities by percentage of jobs recovered from the pandemic. This city lost 43,600 jobs and is only down by 1.1%, with 4,700 jobs to regain. Knoxville will recover fully in 2022, led by Manufacturing, Professional & Business Services, Trade, Transportation and Utilities and Educational Services. Industries that could recover in 2025 or later are Mining, Logging & Construction and Leisure and Hospitality.


Memphis lost 64,400 jobs and is still down 2.0%, with 13,000 to regain. Memphis will recover fully in 2023, led by Mining, Logging and Construction and Trade, Transportation and Utilities. Full recovery for Leisure and Hospitality could lag into 2025 or later.


Nashville jobs are still down by 2.6%, with 28,100 jobs to regain. It lost 147,100 but has already seen significant job gains. Nashville will recover fully in 2022, with most industries recovering in 2021, Educational Services and Manufacturing recovering in 2022, and Leisure and Hospitality could lag into 2025.


Chattanooga lost 32,400 jobs and is still down 3.2% from pre-pandemic employment levels. The area is expected to recover fully in 2022. Financial Activities and Trade, Transportation and Utilities recover this year while Manufacturing will recover jobs in 2022.

The Tennessee Outlook

Across Tennessee, the hardest-hit industries - those which rely on hourly workers - will likely see some of the largest near-term job gains. As Tennessee and its major cities and industries grow closer to full recovery, the pace of growth will start to moderate. Hiring will remain robust but overall percentage growth will be challenging to sustain.

LaborIQ by ThinkWhy continuously forecasts and reports labor data at all levels, measuring impact to cities, industries, occupations and business across the U.S.

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