Census: Nashville area continues to lead state’s population growth

Staff Reports • Updated Mar 24, 2018 at 8:00 AM

The Nashville metropolitan area, which includes Wilson County, continued to see its population grow faster than the rest of the state’s in 2017.

A look at the individual counties that make up the region showed most of that growth took place in the counties surrounding Davidson County, according to the 2017 population estimates released Thursday by the U.S. Census Bureau.

Tennessee’s 2017 population was 6.7 million, which was 1 percent more than in 2016.

Of the state’s 95 counties, a total of 77 experienced growth in their populations. Of those 77 counties, 34 had growth rates that exceeded the state average of 1 percent and 45 grew faster than the national average of 0.7 percent.

The Nashville-Davidson-Murfreesboro-Franklin Metropolitan Statistical Area, whose population was 1.9 million in 2017, grew 1.8 percent from 2016 and made up almost one-third of the state’s total population. Rutherford and Williamson counties accounted for roughly half or 49 percent of the MSA’s population growth.

Seven of the 10 fastest-growing counties in the state in 2017 were part of the Nashville MSA – Williamson at 3.4 percent, Rutherford at 3.1 percent, Wilson at 3 percent, Maury at 2.9 percent, Macon at 2.7 percent, Sumner at 2.5 percent and Cannon at 2.2 percent. The other three counties were Marshall at 3 percent, Montgomery at 2.8 percent and DeKalb at 2.1 percent.

While the Nashville MSA continues to grow and is the largest in the state, the 2017 net migration data shows that 2,397 more people left Davidson County, which houses the city center, than moved in.

“For the fourth year in a row, Tennessee is seeing steady population growth that is slightly faster than the national average,” said Melissa Stefanini, director of the Tennessee State Data Center, which is a local partner to the Census Bureau. “Migration is one of the reasons that we’re seeing growth. Since 2013, the state’s net migration has more than doubled.”

The Tennessee State Data Center is housed within the Boyd Center for Business and Economic Research in the University of Tennessee’s Haslam College of Business. Its 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.

The newly released data also shows that the Clarksville MSA grew 1.5 percent, making it the second fastest in the state. The Knoxville MSA – the only one that has seen an increase in growth every year since 2013 – had the third fastest growth of the state’s MSAs at 1.1 percent.

Micropolitan area highlights from the new data include:

• Cookeville, located in Putnam County, ranked eighth in the nation among the fastest-gaining micropolitan statistical areas – its population grew by 1,660 from 2016 to 2017.

• Lewisburg, located in Marshall County, had the sixth-fastest population growth among the nation’s micropolitan statistical areas at 3 percent.

• Of the 17 micropolitan areas in Tennessee, the fastest growing from 2016 to 2017 were Lewisburg at 3 percent, Cookeville at 1.5 percent, Shelbyville at 1.5 percent, Newport at 1.1 percent and Sevierville at 1.1 percent.

For rankings and interactive graphics, visit the State Data Center’s website at news.utk.edu.

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