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A snapshot of urban versus rural Tennessee.

Tennessee’s population, particularly in its urban areas, continues to grow, according to the 2011­–2015 American Community Survey (ACS) five-year estimates released today by the US Census Bureau.

A local partner to the bureau, the Tennessee State Data Center, is housed within the Boyd Center for Business and Economic Research in UT’s Haslam College of Business.

The center’s 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.

Tennessee’s urban areas increased in population by 14 percent from the census’s first five-year estimates (2005–2009) to the current 2011–2015 data set. By 2015, urban areas accounted for 66.9 percent of the 6.5 million people who live in the state.

During the same time period, the estimates show a decline of 8.2 percent in rural area population. The state’s rural population did, however, see a year-to-year increase of 0.5 percent.

As the nation’s largest household survey, the ACS is the only annual data set that produces this range of statistics for all of the nation’s 3,142 counties. It is the only available data set for the 2,323 counties with populations too small to produce single-year statistics.

Today’s release features data collected between 2011 and 2015 on more than 40 demographic, housing, social, and economic topics, including commuting, educational attainment, and home value.

“The American Community Survey is important because it allows us to see trends at the state and local levels,” said Melissa Stefanini, director of the Tennessee State Data Center. “And Tennessee is following national trends in terms of urban population growth and in some of the other urban/rural data.”

Visit the center’s website for additional charts and tables of today’s five-year estimates.


Melissa Stefanini (865-974-6070,

Lydia McCoy (865-974-6086,