According to the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis, in 2011 Tennessee's real gross state product was $233.997 billion. In 2003, the per capita personal income was $28,641, 36th in the nation, and 91% of the national per capita personal income of $31,472. In 2004, the median household income was $38,550, 41st in the nation, and 87% of the national median of $44,472.
Major outputs for the state include textiles, cotton, cattle, and electrical power. Tennessee has over 82,000 farms, roughly 59 percent of which accommodate beef cattle. Although cotton was an early crop in Tennessee, large-scale cultivation of the fiber did not begin until the 1820s with the opening of the land between the Tennessee and Mississippi Rivers. The upper wedge of the Mississippi Delta extends into southwestern Tennessee, and it was in this fertile section that cotton took hold. Soybeans are also heavily planted in West Tennessee, focusing on the northwest corner of the state.
Major corporations with headquarters in Tennessee include FedEx Corporation, AutoZone Incorporated and International Paper, all based in Memphis; Pilot Corporation and Regal Entertainment Group, based in Knoxville; Eastman Chemical Company, based in Kingsport, the North American headquarters of Nissan, based in Franklin; and the head-quarters of Caterpillar Financial (the finance division of the well known mining company Caterpillar) based in Nashville. Tennessee is also the location of the Volkswagen factory in Chattanooga and a $1.2 billion polysilicon production facility by Hemlock Semiconductor Group in Clarksville.
Tennessee is a right to work state, as are most of its Southern neighbors. Unionization has historically been low and continues to decline as in most of the U.S. generally. As of November 2011, the state had an unemployment rate of 8.4%.
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“It enhances our sense of the grand security and serenity of nature to observe the still undisturbed economy and content of the fishes of this century, their happiness a regular fruit of the summer.”
—Henry David Thoreau (18171862)
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