On economic disparity in Middle Tennessee, how use slice the numbers matters

Jun 14, 2018

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (OSBORNE)  --  A Nashville economist is questioning the way a Washington DC based advocacy group is using economic data to highlight the growing disparity between mid-state communities.

The Economic Innovation Group uses federal statistics divided by zip codes to show large disparities between, for example, prosperous Williamson County and struggling North Nashville.

Credit eig.org

Kenan Fikri directs research at EIG and notes Williamson County was recently named one of the most prosperous counties in the nation. He says other Metro communities aren’t doing nearly as well.

“There are large tracts of the Metro area and large numbers of people in the community who are still being left behind by the kind of boom that’s taken hold in much of the Metro area.”

Fikri says EIG believes the rich-poor divide is causing serious damage and hopes the data will be used to find solutions.

“The economy’s growing divides are tearing us apart socially and politically and we need to find some solutions to start to tie communities back together again.”

Lipscomb University Economist Andy Borchers took a look at the report. While he agrees economic disparity here is large and growing, he questions how EIG used the data.

“It’s somewhat arbitrary how we have defined the region that we’re calculating the statistics for, so it’s one of these things that could be true but misleading.”

Dr. Borchers says economic factors aren’t the only measure of a community’s success. He also says labeling some community’s winners and others losers can itself be divisive.

Would you like to review the complete EIG study entitled "Escape Velocity?"