Tennessee Ranks High in Economic Outlook, New Study Says

FROM: The Tennessee Star

Tennessee ranks seventh out of 50 states in economic outlook, according to the 2019 edition of Rich States, Poor States, released this week.

That’s an improvement over how Tennessee ranked in 2018 (No. 12) and especially five years ago, in 2014 (No. 19), according to the book.

A No. 1 ranking is the best and a ranking of 50 is the worst.

In 2017, however, Tennessee ranked fifth out of the 50 states for economic outlook. The prior year Tennessee legislators phased out the Hall Income Tax over six years of scheduled reductions.

The Arlington, Va.-based American Legislative Exchange Council published the book, written by Jonathan Williams, Art Laffer, and Stephen Moore.

The authors say they base a state’s economic outlook ranking on a state’s current standing in 15 state policy variables.

“Each of these factors is influenced directly by state lawmakers through the legislative process,” they wrote.

“Generally speaking, states that spend less — especially on income transfer programs — and states that tax less — particularly on productive activities such as working or investing — experience higher growth rates than states that tax and spend more.”

Variables authors considered included, among other things, property tax burdens, estate and inheritance taxes, and recently legislated tax changes. They also examined the number of public employees per 10,000 of population, the state’s minimum wage, and whether it is a Right-to-Work state, according to the book.

According to this year’s edition of Rich States, Poor States, Tennessee ranked sixth for economic performance outlook, seventh for state gross domestic product, ninth for absolute domestic migration, and 13th for non-farm payroll enrollment.

Meanwhile, most of Tennessee’s eight surrounding states didn’t fare as well, except for one:

• Alabama: 21st

• Georgia: 18th

• Arkansas: 23rd

• Mississippi: 19th

• Missouri: 22nd

• Kentucky: 32nd

• Virginia: 14th

• North Carolina: 6th

Laffer was on President Ronald Reagan’s Economic Advisory Board and is credited as “the father of supply-side economics.”  Moore wrote for The Wall Street Journal. Williams is ALEC’s chief economist.

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Chris Butler is an investigative journalist at The Tennessee Star. Follow Chris on Facebook. Email tips to chrisbutlerjournalist@gmail.com.

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