4th Quarter 2012

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Top Exporting Counties

  2010 1995
1 Shelby Shelby
2 Davidson Davidson
3 Rutherford Rutherford
4 Hamilton Maury
5 Knox Sullivan
6 Sullivan Hamilton
7 Anderson Knox
8 Williamson Montgomery

Biggest Export Gains per Capita

1 Unicoi (ranked by % increase)
2 Meigs
3 Moore
4 Hardin
5 Macon
6 Stewart
7 Fayette
8 Marion

Exports/Total Economic Activity

  2010 1995
1 Unicoi Jackson
2 Crockett Humphries
3 Rutherford Maury
4 Moore Sequatchie
5 Humphries Lawrence
6 Lake Crockett
7 Morgan Cheatham
8 Hawkins Smith

Export Patterns:
Tennessee Counties, 1995-2010

While the state had clear geographic export clusters in 1995, there has not been any substantial change in them over the years.
by Steven G. Livingston | 1 | 2 | 3


Recent issues of Global Commerce have examined trade trends across the state's 95 counties. This issue looks at changes over a longer period. In real terms, Tennessee exports grew by more than 60% between 1995 and 2010. But how was that growth distributed across the state? Do we see larger patterns to the state's export performance over a longer horizon?

As might be expected, a handful of counties dominate the state's export picture. These have not changed much over the past 15 years. Shelby County remains Tennessee's largest exporter, although its share of state exports has declined. Rutherford and Hamilton counties join Williamson and Anderson among the counties that have significantly increased their share of state exports. On the other hand, Maury, Montgomery, and Washington counties, among larger exporters, all saw a relative decrease. These are rather modest shifts, though, given this rather extended period of time.

If we adjust exporting for the size of a county's economy, we see a good deal more change. On this measure, only two counties ranked among the state's top eight in both 1995 and 2010. Unfortunately, a change in this ranking may reflect improved exporting or a relative decline in total economic activity. In several cases (e.g., Lake County) it is almost certainly the latter. Taking this into account, our first insight is that the state has not seen a seismic shift in the location of export activity over the past decade and a half.


A visual inspection of county export ranking in 1995 and 2010 reinforces this conclusion. While the state had clear geographic export clusters in 1995, there has not been any substantial change in them over the ensuing years. If anything, the existing clusters have merely become stronger. [next »]

Exports 1995exports 1995

Exports 2010 exports 2010