The Best Places in Tennessee for Job Seekers

November 3, 2013
Many or all of the products featured here are from our partners who compensate us. This may influence which products we write about and where and how the product appears on a page. However, this does not influence our evaluations. Our opinions are our own. Here is a list of our partners and here's how we make money.

Tennessee is on the rise. The Federal Funds Information for States named Tennessee one of the top states for economic momentum, which is based on the state’s population, income and employment growth. NerdWallet crunched the numbers to find the best places for job seekers in Tennessee.

We found the best places for job seekers in the state by asking the following questions:

  1. Is the city growing? We assessed growth in the working-age population, ages 16 and older, from 2009 to 2011 to ensure that the city was attracting workers and exhibiting a trend of upward population growth.

  2. Can you afford to live in the city comfortably? We measured a city’s median household income to see if workers made a good living. We also analyzed the monthly homeowner costs, including mortgage payments, to see if the city had a reasonable cost of living.

  3. Are most people employed? We looked at the unemployment rate.

The Best Places in Tennessee for Job Seekers

1.     Bartlett 

Bartlett is located in Shelby County and is part of the Memphis metropolitan area. Between 2009 and 2011, the city saw 13.9 percent growth in the working-age population, and, in 2011, households earned a median income of $75,988. Bartlett’s top employers include Youth Villages, Brother USA and Saint Francis Hospital-Bartlett. Bartlett is home to a branch of the Memphis Public Library and the JobLINC program, which was recognized by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation as a top program for targeted career help. JobLINC helps job seekers find available jobs and training opportunities, obtain one-on-one career assistance and find other career-focused workshops.

2.     Franklin

Franklin, in Williamson County, is located 20 miles south of Nashville, in middle Tennessee. Franklin is a famous music town – every year, music lovers enjoy Bluegrass along the Harpeth, held on the fourth weekend in July, and the Franklin Jazz Festival, held over Labor Day weekend. The city saw 7.4 percent growth in the working-age population between 2009 and 2011, and it has the lowest unemployment rate in the state at just 5.7 percent. Top employers in Franklin include Community Health Systems, Williamson Medical Center and Verizon. Columbia State Community College maintains a campus in Franklin and provides continuing education and business training at the Center for Workforce Development. The Williamson County Office of Economic Development provides plenty of online resources for job seekers.

3.     Collierville

Collierville is located 25 miles southeast of Memphis, in Shelby County. Between 2009 and 2011, the town saw 9.1 percent growth in the working-age population, and households earned a median income of $102,298. As of August 2013, the town’s unemployment is only 6.7 percent. Collierville’s principal employers include FedEx, Carrier Corporation and Baptist Memorial Hospital. Collierville is home to a branch of the Tennessee Career Center, which is part of the Workforce Investment Network, a community resource that provides training, job-search assistance and career development in Memphis, Shelby County and Fayette County.

4.     La Vergne 

Located in Rutherford County, La Vergne is situated on the banks of Percy Priest Lake, approximately 17 miles southeast of Nashville. The city saw 6.4 percent growth in the working-age population between 2009 and 2011, and the unemployment rate is only 6.5 percent. La Vergne’s largest employers include Ingram Content Group, Bridgestone and Venture Express. Lightning Source, an Ingram Content Group company that provides on-demand printing and distribution, is headquartered in La Vergne. The Rutherford County Chamber of Commerce helps small businesses expand through the Small Business Development Center. The Chamber teamed up with Middle Tennessee State University to provide small businesses with free consulting, business information and other seminars.

5.     Hendersonville

Located 18 miles northeast of downtown Nashville, Hendersonville is Tennessee’s 10th-largest city and is situated on the shores of Old Hickory Lake. The city saw 7.7 percent growth in the working-age population between 2009 and 2011, and the unemployment rate is only 6.5 percent. Top employers in Hendersonville include TriStar Hendersonville Medical Center, Walmart and Windham Professionals, and the city is home to the headquarters of Rhoades Car. The Hendersonville Area Chamber of Commerce offers job postings and other online resources for job seekers, including information on the Career Transition Group, where residents can help each other navigate through job changes.

6.     Smyrna

Sitting on the banks of Percy Priest Lake, a popular tourism spot, Smyrna is located 20 miles southeast of Nashville. The town saw 4.8 percent growth in the working-age population between 2009 and 2011, and its unemployment rate was only 6.5 percent. Major employers in Smyrna include Nissan North America, Asurion and Schneider Electric. Smyrna’s Incumbent Worker Training Program provides customized training for employees to help businesses retain workers and succeed.

7.     Murfreesboro 

Located 30 miles southeast of Nashville, Murfreesboro is the county seat of Rutherford County. Murfreesboro saw 8.6 percent growth in the working-age population between 2009 and 2011. Major employers in Murfreesboro include Middle Tennessee State University, National Healthcare Corporation and State Farm. The city is home to Middle Tennessee State University, the largest university in the Tennessee Board of Regents System. The university offers non-traditional and online education programs, including courses on professional development and mastering technological programs.

8.     Kingsport 

Situated in northeastern Tennessee, Kingsport is a part of the Johnson City-Kingsport-Bristol, Tennessee-Virginia metropolitan area. Kingsport saw the working-age population grow 7.6 percent between 2009 and 2011, and the city has a low median monthly homeowner cost of $1,021. Principal employers in Kingsport include Eastman Chemical Company, Mountain States Health Alliance and Wellmont Health System. The city is home to the Kingsport Academic Village, which comprises of a Center for Higher Education, where residents can continue their education at six different colleges that have campuses in Kingsport, as well as four regional centers to help workers obtain the classes and certifications they need for careers in advanced manufacturing, automotive programs, applied technology and healthcare.

9.     Lebanon 

Lebanon is located 30 miles east of Nashville, in central Tennessee. Lebanon saw 6.9 percent growth in the working-age population between 2009 and 2011. Major industries in Lebanon include Performance Food Group, GENCO and Cracker Barrel, which is headquartered in the city. The Italian plastics company SO.F.TER has recently selected Lebanon as the location of their U.S. headquarters and manufacturing plant. Lebanon is home to Cumberland University, which provides programs on professional development such as their Business Owner Series, Business Application Computer Training courses and Real Estate Fundamentals.

10.  Clarksville 

Clarksville is the seat of Montgomery County, in northern Tennessee, and it is the fifth-largest city in the state by population. The city saw 8.4 percent growth in the working-age population between 2009 and 2011. Clarksville’s top employers include Convergys Corporation, Gateway Medical Center and Trane. Austin Peay State University offers a Continuing Education program that allows everyone in the community to obtain additional training through night and online classes – it even has a nighttime childcare center for their students with young children.

Rank City Nearest Big City Working-Age Population Change (2009 to 2011) Median Household Income (2011) Monthly Homeowner Costs (2011) Unemployment Rate (2013) Overall Score

1 Bartlett Memphis 13.9% $75,988 $1,619 7.3% 73.0

2 Franklin Nashville 7.4% $77,118 $1,907 5.7% 68.4

3 Collierville Memphis 9.1% $102,298 $2,172 6.7% 66.9

4 La Vergne Nashville 6.4% $55,998 $1,203 6.5% 64.8

5 Hendersonville Nashville 7.7% $63,719 $1,598 6.5% 64.5

6 Smyrna Nashville 4.8% $51,059 $1,276 6.5% 60.3

7 Murfreesboro Nashville 8.6% $48,766 $1,404 7.4% 59.8

8 Kingsport - 7.6% $39,901 $1,021 7.8% 57.7

9 Lebanon Nashville 6.9% $45,186 $1,345 7.4% 56.6

10 Clarksville - 8.4% $47,483 $1,150 8.2% 56.6


The overall score for each city was derived from the following measures:

  1. Population change from 2009 to 2011 from the U.S. Census (2009 and 2011 U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey (ACS))

  2. Median household income from the U.S. Census (2011 ACS, half-weighted)

  3. Monthly homeowner costs with mortgage payments from the U.S. Census (2011 ACS, half-weighted)

  4. Unemployment rate from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (2013)

27 communities designated as places by the U.S. Census were included in this analysis. Only places with a working-age population greater than 20,000 were considered.

Photo Credit: Nashville Skyline by Kyle Simourd

More From NerdWallet

We want to hear from you and encourage a lively discussion among our users. Please help us keep our site clean and safe by following our posting guidelines, and avoid disclosing personal or sensitive information such as bank account or phone numbers. Any comments posted under NerdWallet’s official account are not reviewed or endorsed by representatives of financial institutions affiliated with the reviewed products, unless explicitly stated otherwise.