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Economy Shows Signs of Strength

Several indicators suggest that the U.S. economy is recovering. Employers added 209,000 jobs in July, which was the sixth straight month of job growth above 200,000.

Strong employment growth contributed to an increase of consumer confidence—The Conference Board’s confidence index rose to 90.9 in July, the highest it’s been since October 2007. More confidence about the economy led to increased spending, which helped the GDP grow 4 percent in the second quarter of 2014.

These are all good signs of continued improvement for the national economy, but the news is even better locally.

Tennessee has received several accolades recently for attracting businesses and jobs to the state. Influential trade publication Site Selection magazine has named Tennessee the No. 2 state when it comes to economic development success. Even better, Business Facilities magazine named Tennessee the 2013 State of Year.

When you drill down closer to home, data show that Knoxville’s metro area continues to outpace the national recovery, particularly as it relates to job growth and the rate of unemployment.

Knoxville enjoys an extremely healthy and diverse economy with an excellent transportation and technology infrastructure that attracts many corporations. Earlier this year, Fresenius Medical Care North America announced that the company will move its manufacturing operations to Knox County, creating 665 jobs in the area. Leisure Pools is also in the process of hiring more employees for its recently relocated corporate headquarters and manufacturing plant.

Little did these companies know when they announced their plans that they would be moving to the “most exciting place in Tennessee.” According to real estate brokerage site Movoto.com, Knoxville ranks No. 1 out of 59 cities statewide with populations of 10,000 or more. Movoto used data from the 2010 U.S. Census and business listings to rank the qualifying cities based on criteria such as live music venues, nightlife per capita and percentage of young residents ages 18 to 34.

USA Today has taken notice of Knoxville’s appeal for young adults and recently named it a “millennial magnet.” Knox County grew by 8,482 residents of all ages from 2010 to 2013, making it the fifth-fastest growing in the state.

Maybe new residents are attracted by the area’s low cost of living. This spring Forbes named Knoxville the No. 5 most affordable city in the country. The magazine measured a number of variables for 100 U.S. cities, specifically singling out home buying in Knoxville compared to New York City and Los Angeles.

Economic reports and rankings continue to roll out nearly every day, and some are better than others. While the national economy isn’t yet fully recovered, relocation announcements and accolades show that the Knoxville market is picking up steam. Watch for that momentum to continue through the rest of the year and into 2015.

Missy Wallen can be reached at 865-766-3037 or missy.wallen @pnfp.com.

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