University of Tennessee

UT Study: Tennessee on Track for Steady Population Growth

September 15, 2015

KNOXVILLE—While Tennessee’s population growth this decade has been slower than anticipated, the Center for Business and Economic Research at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, projects the state’s population to reach 8.5 million by 2040.

Over the next 25 years, Tennessee’s demographic profile is expected to follow national trends as the population continues to age and become more racially and ethnically diverse as well as more urbanized.

CBER—a research center within UT’s Haslam College of Business—projects that the largest changes in county population will occur primarily in metropolitan counties.

Highlights from the updated county-level projections report released today include the following:

  • Middle Tennessee is expected to lead the state in population growth. Five of the 10 counties with the highest projected growth rates through 2040—Williamson, Rutherford, Wilson, Robertson and Sumner—are in the Nashville-Davidson-Murfreesboro-Franklin Metropolitan Statistical Area.
  • Among counties with populations greater than 25,000, Fayette, Montgomery, Sevier, Loudon and Cumberland counties are also in the top 10 for projected growth rates.
  • Approximately 69 percent of the population growth in Tennessee from 2010 to 2040 is expected to occur in Rutherford, Davidson, Williamson, Knox, Shelby, Montgomery, Wilson, Hamilton, Sumner and Sevier counties.
  • By 2040, the Hispanic/Latino population will more than double to 11.2 percent compared to 4.5 percent in 2010.
  • The proportion of the population characterized as “non-white, non-black, non-Hispanic” is expected to increase to 7.9 percent by 2040, compared to 3.2 percent in 2010.
  • Tennessee’s population is expected to be 17.2 percent black non-Hispanic by 2040, compared to 16.3 percent in 2010.
  • The proportion of senior citizens and elderly is expected to increase in Tennessee, due to both the aging of the baby boomer generation and increased life expectancy. As of the 2010 census, there were 99,917 individuals aged 85 and older in Tennessee. That number is expected to triple to more than 330,000 by 2040.

The report has been picked up by media outlets throughout the state including:

The Knoxville News Sentinel

Johnson City Press

Brentwood Home Page

Franklin Home Page

Download the population projections data and view a map of the county-level growth rate projections.

Download Tennessee yearly county data broken down by total, age, sex and/or race.

For more information about the Center for Business and Economic Research, visit

For more information about the Tennessee State Data Center, visit


Matt Harris (865-974-5591,

Melissa Stefanini (865-974-6070,

Tyra Haag (865-974-5460,