Due to its position, Knoxville had its early growth driven largely by travelers heading west through the town, and this effect was furthered by the arrival of railroads in the mid 19th century.
During the Civil War, there was strong support for both the Union and the Confederacy within Knoxville, and the city came to be a key conflict zone. Still, the city was able to recover quickly after the war due to high levels of incoming investment. The late 19th century actually saw Knoxville experiencing significant growth, with the University of Tennessee gaining prominence and many companies being founded in the city. This is also when the city established itself as a major player in the manufacturing and textile industries.
Knoxville's manufacturing and textile industries were hit hard both by the Great Depression and by an increase in foreign competition in the 1950s and 60s. These hits also had a severe impact on the city's economy as a whole. However, many projects were launched to counteract these effects, including the very popular 1982 World's Fair; hosting this allowed Knoxville to showcase its innovative Tennessee Valley Authority, increase its notability, and stimulate its economy.
The city has since successfully diversified its economy, but still retains a strong manufacturing sector. Its active arts community is reflected in such events as the Dogwood Arts Festival and in such institutions as the Knoxville Symphony Orchestra (the oldest continuing orchestra in the southeast), and the local music scene has been lauded.
- Joint-first on ManpowerGroup's 2012 list of "Best Cities For Jobs".
- Number 2 on CareerBliss' 2013 list of "Happiest Cities To Work In Right Now".
- Number 5 on Kiplinger's "Best Value Cities 2011" list.
- Number 6 on Forbes' 2012 list of "Best Mid-Size Cities For Jobs".
- Number 10 on Forbes' 2008 list of "Hot Spots".
Major Industries and Employers
Knoxville is home to the head office of the Tennessee Valley Authority, which is the nation's largest public power provider, as well as its first large regional planning agency. This serves as a key employer in the region.
Other major employers with the head offices in Knoxville include cinema chain Regal Entertainment Group, media company Scripps Networks Interactive, truck stop chain Pilot Flying J, marketing firm Tombras Group, grocery wholesaler H. T. Hackney Company, food-processor Bush Brothers and Company, Brunswick Boat Group, technology company Thermocopy, fast-food chain Petro's Chili & Chips, student-loan servicer EdFinanical Services, and music promotion company AC Entertainment.
Knoxville is also home to the flagship campus of the University of Tennessee, which helps boost the city's economy through bringing in money, through providing employment, and through the results of research efforts.
The city's population in 2012 was 182,200. Knoxvillians between 20 and 29 years old make up 22.1% of the population, and the median age is 34.0. 10,552 veterans live in Knoxville, as do 8,211 people born overseas.
Of the residents aged 25 and over, 86.9% graduated high school and 30% got a bachelor's degree. Both of these rates are slightly above that of the nation as a whole (which has 85.7% and 28.5%, respectively).
Knoxville's mean per capita income is $23,173 per year, which is significantly lower than the nation's $28,051. The homeownership rate in the city is 50.5% (with the national rate being 65.5%). The unemployment rate is a low 5.8% (the nation's is 6.7%), but 23.3% of Knoxvillians live below the poverty level (compared to the national rate of 15.0%).
Due to the city's low tax rates, low energy and utility prices, and low housing costs, the city is very affordable. The 2011 sales price for houses in Knoxville was $140,900, well below the nation's $173,300. Additionally, the American Chamber of Commerce Researchers Association gave Knoxville a score of 89.6 on its 2010 cost of living index, with the average of all cities studied being 100; this indicates that Knoxville has a substantially low cost of living.
The homeownership and poverty rates in Knoxville are both substantially lower to those of the nation as a whole, but the unemployment rate is notably better than the rest of the country. The city's economy is diversified and quite strong, and the local culture is very pleasant. One point in particular that stands out about the city is it's impressively low cost of living. It seems that the city would be an ideal choice for job seekers, especially those who are seeking an affordable standard of living.