Census: Nashville, Knoxville Areas Continue to Lead the State in Population Growth

March 24, 2017

KNOXVILLE—Tennessee’s overall population continues to grow, with the Nashville and Knoxville metropolitan areas seeing the fastest growth rates in the state, according to the 2016 estimates released today by the U.S. Census Bureau.

Tennessee’s 2016 population was 6.65 million, which was 0.9 percent more than in 2015. The state ranks 16th in the nation in terms of percentage growth.

The Nashville-Davidson-Murfreesboro-Franklin Metropolitan Statistical Area, whose population was 1.87 million in 2016, made up 28 percent of the total state population. That was up 2 percent from 2015.

Knoxville’s MSA population in 2016 was 868,546, which was up 0.9 percent, or 7,377 people, compared to 2015. 

“As a state, we are seeing slow and steady population growth, and we continue to grow slightly faster than the national average for the third year in a row,” said Melissa Stefanini, director of the Tennessee State Data Center, which is a local partner to the Census Bureau. “There could be many reasons for this trend—for example, job growth in the state and people pursuing higher education.”

The Tennessee State Data Center is housed within the Boyd Center for Business and Economic Research in the University of Tennessee, Knoxville’s Haslam College of Business. Its mission is to provide efficient access to census data and products, training and technical assistance to data users, and feedback to the Census Bureau on data usability, as well as responding to state and local government data needs and operational issues.

The newly released data also shows that of the state’s 95 counties, a total of 67 experienced growth. Of those 67 counties, 24 had growth rates that exceeded the state average of 0.9 percent and 33 grew faster than the national average of 0.7 percent.

The 10 fastest-growing counties in the state were Williamson, Rutherford, Wilson, Trousdale, Maury, Sumner, Macon, Dickson, Lawrence and Putnam. All 10 counties are either in the Nashville MSA or border it and grew at rates between 1.3 and 3.5 percent. As seen in the graphic, the fastest-growing counties are those that surround Davidson County, which houses Nashville’s center city.

“The population growth we are seeing across the state is in part due to net migration, or people moving into and out of the state,” Stefanini said. “More than 39,000 people moved to Tennessee in the last year, and we’re ranked 11th in the nation for total net migration.”

The 2016 data indicates that counties within metropolitan areas—including Rutherford, Williamson, Knox, Hamilton and Wilson counties—are seeing the highest net migration. While most counties in the state are seeing newer residents, the data shows that other counties are losing more residents than they are gaining.

For more information, visit the Tennessee county-level population table or the components of change table.

For rankings and graphics, visit the center’s website.

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CONTACT:

Melissa Stefanini (865-974-6070, tnsdc@utk.edu)

Lydia McCoy (865-974-6086, lmccoy5@utk.edu)

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CUTLINE:

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