Tennessee's population

New estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau show Tennessee remained the nation’s 16th most populous state for the third year in a row in 2018.

The data, analyzed by the Tennessee State Data Center, housed in UT’s Boyd Center for Business and Economic Research, indicates that the state’s population grew by 61,216 people between 2017 and 2018, increasing the population estimate to 6,770,010 residents.

The one-year increase in population of 0.91 percent fell slightly from the 2016-17 rate of 0.96 percent.

The state’s 79,474 births outpaced its 67,259 recorded deaths, and the difference — called natural change — accounts for 20 percent of the total population increase last year. Births have hovered at around 80,000 annually since 2011, while deaths have increased by 1.6 percent each year over that same period.

“We’re not surprised to see the growth slow slightly,” said Tim Kuhn, director of the center. “In fact, the steady rise in the state’s death rate over the last 20 years and declining birth rate, especially among women under the age of 25, will likely edge the growth further downward despite a continued influx of new residents.”

Overall, the rate of natural change has fallen steadily by 5 percent every year since 2010. However, that slowdown has been offset by migration from other states.

Nearly two-thirds of the state’s population increase is driven by residents moving from other states, including almost 40,000 people who moved to Tennessee from surrounding states in the past year. In prior years, Florida, Georgia, and Kentucky have been the largest sources of new residents.

“The Southeast (including Tennessee, Florida, Georgia, and the Carolinas) continues to be among the fastest-growing parts of the country,” said Kuhn. “Tennessee has a strong economy and favorable climate. We should expect the growth to continue.”

International migration accounted for 8,994 residents, or about 15 percent of the gain.

The 2018 state-level estimates will be followed by county-level estimates in March and municipality-level numbers in May.

The Census Bureau’s Population Estimates Program produces annual population estimates of the nation’s territories, states, counties and cities.

The Tennessee State Data Center is a cooperative program funded by the State of Tennessee, working in partnership with UT and the U.S. Census Bureau. It operates from the Boyd Center, which is housed in UT’s Haslam College of Business. Its mission is to provide efficient access to census data and products, training, and technical assistance to data users; to report feedback on data usability to the Census Bureau; and to respond to state and local government data needs and operational issues.

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