Tennessee is following national trends of an aging population and continuing to become more diverse, according to the data released Thursday by the U.S. Census Bureau and disseminated by the Tennessee State Data Center.
The state’s median age has increased from 38.0 years to 38.7 years from 2010 to 2017, making it the 22nd oldest state in the nation. The nation’s median age increased from 37.2 years to 38.0 years during the same period.
“Baby boomers and millennials alike are responsible for this trend in increased aging,” said Molly Cromwell, a demographer with the Census Bureau. “Boomers continue to age and are slowly outnumbering children as the birth rate has declined steadily over the last decade.”
The data release includes national, state and county population estimates for 2017 by age, sex, race and Hispanic origin.
Baby boomers in Tennessee (ages 53 to 71 in 2017) were the largest portion of the state’s population at 23.1 percent, followed by millennials at 21.6 percent.
Tennessee counties also are aging as the nation is – all 95 counties experienced growth in their population ages 55 and older from 2016 to 2017, with the largest being in middle Tennessee. Based on 2017 median age, the youngest counties in the state are located in urban/metro areas and the oldest counties are more rural. Eighty-three counties had either increases or no change in median age from 2016 to 2017, while 12 counties saw a decrease in median age.
The state’s population is becoming more diverse in terms of race and ethnicity. According to the new data, Tennessee saw growth in each of the following categories (race alone unless otherwise noted): white (0.9 percent), black or African American (1.0 percent), American Indian and Alaska Native (2.6 percent), Asian (3.9 percent), Native Hawaiian and other Pacific Islander (2.0 percent) and two or more races (3.9 percent).
The Hispanic population in Tennessee grew by 4.0 percent from 2016 to 2017. Further detail is as follows (race alone unless otherwise noted): white (4.2 percent), black or African American (2.5 percent), American Indian and Alaska Native (2.4 percent), Asian (1.4 percent), Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander (0.4 percent) and two or more races (6.0 percent).
Of the state’s 95 counties, 88 had growth in their non-white population from 2016 to 2017, while 74 counties experienced growth in their white (race alone) population. Ninety-two counties experienced growth in the Hispanic population from 2016 to 2017.
The Tennessee State Data Center is a local partner to the Census Bureau. Its mission is to provide efficient access to census data and products, training and technical assistance to data users, report feedback on data usability to the Census Bureau and respond to state and local government data needs and operational issues.
It is housed within the Boyd Center for Business and Economic Research in UT’s Haslam College of Business.
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