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Census survey shows state continues to follow national trends

Staff Reports • Updated Oct 13, 2017 at 9:00 AM

Tennessee continued to follow national trends, with a decline in its poverty rate for the second year in a row, according to the 2016 American Community Survey one-year estimates released Thursday by the U.S. Census Bureau.

The state’s poverty rate decreased from 16.7 percent in 2015 to 15.8 percent in 2016, which was still slightly higher than the national average of 14 percent in 2016. Tennessee also saw increases in its median household income averages and its percentages of people covered by health insurance, according to the annual survey.

The ACS 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 timeliest of the American Community Surveys and are useful when analyzing large populations,” said Melissa Stefanini, director of the Tennessee State Data Center. “We look forward to the five-year estimate release in December, which will give us a fuller picture of all populations.”

A local partner to the U.S. Census Bureau, the Tennessee State Data Center is housed within the Boyd Center for Business and Economic Research at the University of Tennessee’s Haslam College of Business.

Local highlights from Tennessee and the Metropolitan Statistical Areas from the 2016 survey include:

• Poverty – Half of the MSAs experienced poverty rates below the state average of 15.8 percent, including Chattanooga, Clarksville, Cleveland, Knoxville and Nashville–Davidson–Murfreesboro–Franklin. Cleveland and Nashville MSA poverty rates were also lower than the national average.

• Age – Tennessee’s median age was 38.6, which was slightly older than the national average of 37.9. Clarksville, Jackson, Memphis and Nashville MSAs reported media ages younger than the state average. Clarksville had the youngest MSA in Tennessee at 30.8, while Kingsport–Bristol–Bristol had the oldest at 45.1.

• Income – Tennessee had a lower median household income at $48,547 than the national average of $57,617. Nashville’s median household income at $60,030 was the only MSA in the state to surpass the national average. Five MSAs had median household incomes above the state average, Clarksville, Cleveland, Knoxville, Memphis and Nashville. Median household income increased in eight MSAs and Tennessee from 2015 to 2016.

• Health insurance coverage – The percentage of Tennesseans who were insured increased from 2015 to 2016 from 89.7 percent to 91 percent, respectively. That was slightly below the national average of 91.4 percent. The Knoxville MSA had the lowest percent uninsured at 8.1 percent. Four MSAs had a lower percentage of uninsured population than the nation at 8.6 percent, and seven are lower than the state average of 9 percent.

The Chattanooga, Clarksville, Kingsport–Bristol–Bristol and Memphis MSAs include counties in other states.

According to the U.S. 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 40 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.”

The mission of the TN SDC is to provide efficient access to U.S. 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.

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