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Tennessee was one of twenty-five states that saw a significant decline in its poverty rates, 1.6 percent, from 2014 to 2015, according to the 2015 American Community Survey (ACS) one-year estimates released today by the US Census Bureau.

2015ACS_Graphic_FinalDraftThe annual survey provides a wide range of demographic and economic statistics on states and local areas for communities of 65,000 or greater.

“The one-year estimates are important for researchers because they are the most timely of the American Community Surveys, and are useful when analyzing large populations,” said Melissa Stefanini, director of the Tennessee State Data Center.

A local partner to the US Census Bureau, the Tennessee State Data Center (TN SDC) is housed within the Boyd Center for Business and Economic Research at UT’s Haslam College of Business.

Tennessee’s Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) highlights from the 2015 survey include:

  • Poverty:
    • Nashville-Davidson-Murfreesboro-Franklin (Nashville), Clarksville*, and Chattanooga* MSAs experienced poverty rates below the state average of 16.7 percent. Nashville’s rate was 12.7 percent, while Clarksville and Chattanooga’s rates were both 15.3 percent.
  • Education:
    • Three MSAs, Nashville, Memphis* and Knoxville, had higher percentages of their respective populations—25 and older—who had at least a bachelor’s degree at 33.7 percent, 27.9 percent and 27 percent, repectively, when compared to the state average of 25.7 percent.
  • Age:
    • Three MSAs had lower median ages than the state average of 38.7: Clarksville* at 30.2, Memphis* at 35.8, and Nashville at 36.4.
  • Income:
    • Nashville, Clarksville* and Memphis* MSAs had median incomes above the state average of $24,732. Nashville MSA’s median income was $29,860, Clarksville median income was $26,334 and Memphis’ median income was $25,799.

*Note that the Chattanooga, Clarksville, and Memphis MSAs include counties in other states.

Other Tennessee highlights include:

  • Education:
    • 86 percent of Tennesseans twenty-five years old and over had at least a high school diploma (or equivalency) in 2015, and 25.7 percent had a bachelor’s degree or higher. Similarly, 87.2 percent of the nation had at least a high school diploma, and 30.6 percent had a bachelor’s degree or higher.
  • Health insurance:
    • 89.7 percent of the state’s population had health insurance in 2015, up from 88 percent in 2014. The percent insured across the nation grew from 88.3 percent to 90.6 percent.
  • Age:
    • Tennessee’s median age of 38.7 was just higher than the nation’s of 37.8.
  • Income:
    • Median income in Tennessee grew from $23,189 in 2014 to $24,732 in 2015, while the nation’s grew from $26,757 to $27,643.

For a snapshot of Tennessee and its MSAs, visit the TN SDC.

According to the US Census Bureau, the ACS “provides a wide range of important statistics about people and housing for every community in the nation. The survey is the only source of local estimates for most of the forty topics it covers for even the smallest communities. It produces statistics for ancestry, language, education, commuting, employment, mortgage status and rent, as well as income, poverty, and health insurance. Statistics will be available for all geographies down to the block group level regardless of population size.”

To access the one-year ACS statistics, visit the US Census Bureau.

The mission of the TN SDC is to provide efficient access to US Census data and products, training and technical assistance to data users, feedback to the Census Bureau on data usability, as well as state and local government data needs and operational issues.


Melissa Stefanini (865-974-6070,

Lydia McCoy (865-974-6086,