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State of the Child 2022 – Perry County snapshot


MVP Regional News Editor

Determining the state of Tennessee children is the focus of a report released each year by the Tennessee Commission on Children and Youth. Data is collected from several sources that look at factors such as economics, education, health, child welfare, and justice.

Known as “The State of the Child,” the data is used to develop programs and examine funding for them designed to improve the overall well-being of the state’s future—its children.

This assessment identifies challenges and improved outcomes and makes a comparison to other states across the nation.

On January 11, the TCCY released its 66-page report from information collected in 2022, highlighting challenges faced by Tennessee families and progress made as a result of updated policies and programs in the state.

Although much of the information released is centered around needed improvements, Tennessee has a reason to celebrate as there is a significant improvement in the number of children living in poverty with a decline that outpaced the country as a whole.

According to The State of the Child 2022, between 2019 and 2021, the percentage of children living in poverty declined by 8 percent in Tennessee. Poverty among those under 5 decreased by 18 percent.

In 2019, Gov. Bill Lee’s first executive order upon taking office identified 15 distressed rural counties.

The governor charged the state with increasing resources such as economic development, more vocational technical training and expanded access to broadband and health care, specifically for those distressed counties.

Perry County was among those identified as “distressed” in Tennessee. While Perry County has shown a slight 1.6% increase in child poverty, ten of the fifteen distressed counties show improvements.

The county has seen some of the highest unemployment rates in the state, particularly in January 2009 when the percent of unemployed was 28.7, and 23.6 in April 2020.

By December 2022, the unemployment rate hovered at only 5 percent in Perry County, marking a slight drop from previous months.

Perry County has the fifth-smallest workforce in the state, with 2,676 people and 135 of those unemployed in December. The county’s reported population in 2021 was 8,104, with 1,780 of those under age 18. ]

Housing costs continue to trend upward in the nation, and Tennessee was not immune to those increases.

According to the report, one in four Tennesseans is “housing-cost burdened. The report shows in 2022, 57% of those earning $50,000 or less spend 30% of their income on housing costs, which includes rent, mortgage, taxes and insurance.

Sixty-seven percent of Tennesseans earning $35,000 or less spend 30% of their income on housing, and 78% who earn $20,000 or less spend 30% on housing.

Last year there was a reported shortage of affordable and available housing for extremely low-income renters in Tennessee.

In 2021, the average fair market monthly rent in Perry County was listed at $890.

According to TNECD, 23.6% of Perry Countians have income below poverty levels. Those earning $50,000 to $74,999 represent the largest percentage of people with reported incomes at 22.4 percent. The median household income for Perry County residents was noted at $46,366 in 2021.

KIDS Count data profiles for Tennessee counties are typically released in March and will include data from 2022.

The Tennessee Commission on Children and Youth is an individual state agency created by the Tennessee General Assembly. For more information, visit





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