Brookings: Knoxville 16th on education gap index

Job OpeningsKnoxville fares better than most metropolitan areas nationwide in a new report by the Brookings Institution that examines how education effects unemployment.

 Among the 100 largest metropolitan markets, Knoxville ranks 16th on the education gap index. (Ranking 1st indicates the top performing metro and 100th is the worst performer.)

“Narrowing the education gap is particularly important for improving the long-term health of metropolitan economies,” Jonathan Rothwell, senior research associate and report author, says in a news release. “Metro areas with wide education gaps have higher unemployment, but metro areas with narrow education gaps have lower unemployment, more job creation, and more job openings.”

The education gap index is calculated as “as the years of education required by the average job vacancy in a metropolitan area divided by the years of education attained by the average working-age person in that metropolitan area,” according to the report.


Brookings defines education gap as the difference between employers’ demand for educated workers and the availability of educated workers in a given labor market.

The report – Education, Job Openings and Unemployment in Metro America – was released this week.

Knoxville ranks considerably higher than Tennessee’s other major metros. Nashville is 47th, followed by Chattanooga, 82nd and Memphis, 84th.

The study looked at a variety of data, including the average years of education required by vacant jobs openings and educational attainment of the work force in each metro area.

In Knoxville, vacant jobs required an average of 14 years of education, according to the study. By age 25 the average adult in Knoxville has 13.6 years of education, the study reports.

Among other interesting details, the report found that 23 percent of the job openings in metro Knoxville required a bachelor’s degree, 10 percent required an associate’s degree and 24 percent required some college.

Click here for the full report.