NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — The Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce annual Vital Signs report is out. At least 2,000 middle Tennesseans weighed in on issues impacting the region. Workforce and economic development, housing, transportation and infrastructure were among key issues in this year's report.
"So that response from middle Tennesseans really helps inform the topics that we focus on each year to find out what's important our region, also what is important to our local elected officials as they make decisions to help our region move forward," said Vice-president of Regional Policy, Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce, Matt Bailey.
"We found that about 37% of residents are considered 'house burdened' across the region which means they spend 30% of their income on their mortgage or rent," he said.
Of the respondents, 38% said their employment was impacted by COVID-19. "The Nashville region in itself lost over 171,000 jobs throughout 2020. It's a pretty devastating impact when you think about it."
Unemployment among Whites peaked at 10.3%. For blacks, that number was at 21.8%.
Another key issue: child care. Half of the respondents said child care, or the lack thereof, impacted their ability to work.
"I think we saw that at the onset of the pandemic of employees really trying to find way to find convenient, affordable child care and realizing throughout our region that that is lacking in some places," said Bailey.
With many working remotely, issues like broadband access were brought to light. Nearly a third of Tennesseans say they have no internet subscription.
And despite spending much of the year at home, more than 72% said transit is still a top concern.
Bailey said, "our economic well-being I think is on the rise. I think we are in a period of recovery." Looking forward, the report shows middle Tennesseans are hopeful about the area's recovery, but more than half say it could take more than a year to return to normal.