Tennessee Population 2018


Situated in the southeastern sector of the United States, Tennessee is only the 36th largest state in the country by area, but it is the 20th most densely populated. The current estimated population for 2018 is 6.78 million, up from 6.34 million at the 2010 Census. Tennessee currently has a growth rate of 0.86%, which ranks 23rd in the country.

The last official population count for the state of Tennessee was taken during the last nationwide census held in 2010. At the time it was confirmed that the state’s population stood at 6,346,105. That number reflects a rise of 11.5% on the statistics from the previous census held in 2000.

It's estimated that the population has grown even further to 6,600,2996 in 2016.

For a breakdown of which Tennessee counties’ population are increasing, and which are decreasing, take a look at our interactive map. Read on for more information about Tennessee's population trends, or head across to our US population summary for more information about demographic changes around the country.

Tennessee Population Density

Although relatively small in terms of numbers, Tennessee provides some interesting statistics in relation to population density. This is a relatively small area that covers 42,143 square miles (109,247 square kilometers) but for every square mile of Tennessee turf, there is an average of 153.9 people, making Tennessee the 20th most densely populated state in the entire country.

You can see the largest cities in Tennessee on the map -- they’re the red blotches. The largest city in Tennessee is Memphis in the far east of the state, home to 655,770 people according to 2015 estimates. The second largest, located in the middle of the state, is Nashville, which had an estimated 654,610 residents. However, Nashville’s metropolitan area population is larger than the Memphis metropolitan area’s -– 1,757,912 people in Nashville compared to 1,341,746 in Memphis.

Tennessee Population History

The Territory South of the Ohio River, formerly part of North Carolina and sometimes known as the Southwest Territory, was created in 1790. It was admitted as the State of Tennessee on June 1, 1796. Both Territory and State had generally the same boundaries as the present State, except that because of erroneous surveys much of the Tennessee-Kentucky boundary was in dispute for some time; it was not finally resurveyed until 1859. Details of the Tennessee-Virginia boundary were not settled until 1901.

Census coverage in 1790 and 1800 was limited to the northeastern part of Tennessee and the region around Nashville, and coverage did not include the whole State until 1830. The 1790 census of the Southwest Territory actually began at the end of July 1791.

Tennessee Population Chart

Tennessee Population History

In 1790, it was reported that the population of Tennessee was just 35,691, but like most areas in this part of the world, a population explosion was just over the horizon. Just ten years later, at the start of the 19th century, numbers had grown by nearly 200% to 105,602.

That was by far the biggest spike in the Tennessee population but sustained increases throughout the 1800s meant that by the time the 20th century rolled in, the number of people who lived in Tennessee had just crept over the two million mark.

The 1900s showed a similar pattern of overall growth and that has continued to the present day where the Tennessee population in 2016 has finally surpassed 6.5 million.

Tennessee Population Growth

Figures relating to the natural growth patterns within Tennessee were released in 2006 and they showed that in the six years since the previous census, numbers had increased by 142,266 due to 493,881 births minus 351,615 deaths, and in addition, there had been a rise of 219,551 due to net migration.

There are no reasons to suggest that healthy rises won’t continue for the foreseeable future. It's projected that Tennessee's population will surpass 7 million by the 2020 Census and pass the 7.5 million mark before 2025.

Population Data via US Census

Tennessee Growth Rate

Tennessee Population Rank

Year Pop % Change

Tennessee Facts

Tennessee Population in 2018Source: Leonard23 at English Wikipedia

  • The first settlement in Tennessee was set up at Boone's Creek in 1769. William Bean built a cabin for his family, and several settlers from North Carolina joined him.
  • Oak Ridge was designated the base for the government's Manhattan Project in the 1940s. The population of Oak Ridge jumped from just 3,000 in 1942 to 75,000 just three years later.
  • When Tennessee first became a state, it already had a population of about 77,000 in 1796.
  • Tennessee is the setting for Graceland, the home of Elvis Presley. The home is the second most visited in the US.
  • The city of Bristol is said to be the birthplace of country music. Tennessee's capital, Nashville, is also known as "Music City" and is thought to be the country music capital of the world.
  • Shelby County has more horses per capita than any other county in the United States.

Tennessee Population Density by County

Shelby County

  • Population937,130
  • Density1227.85 per sq km
  • Growth Since 20100.92%
  • State Rank1
  • % of State14.09%

Tennessee Population Growth Rate by County

Interesting population patterns were observed in Tennessee when comparing data from the 2010 Census to 2015 estimates taken by the Census Bureau. This data showed that population growth by county primarily occurred in the central region of the state. Williamson County had the highest gain in population during the 5-year period at 15%. Surrounding counties Davidson, Rutherford, and Maury all had population increases that exceeded 5%. Montgomery County, located along the northern border of the state, posted a gain of 11.72%, while Sumner directly to its east had a population growth of 9.11%.

Some counties also had population declines, particularly counties found in the northwestern corner of the state. The largest loss was recorded in Hardeman County, located along the southern border, which had a population of 5.34%. Other population losses were less than 5% across the state, including those observed in such counties as Weakley, Haywood, Roane, and Hancock.

Tennessee Population Pyramid 2018

0k10k20k30k40k50kTennessee Male Population0k10k20k30k40k50kTennessee Female Population80757065605550454035302520151050

To compare Tennessee to other states, click here.

Population by Race

Race Population
Black or African American1,114,434
Two or More Races139,850
Some Other Race79,206
American Indian and Alaska Native19,053
Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander4,798

Tennessee has the 10th largest percentage of African American residents in the nation. Over 36% of the population under the age of 1 are minorities. There are also a number of Native Americans residing in Tennessee, including the Cherokee Wolf Clan, Chikamaka Band, Central Band of Cherokee, United Eastern Lenapee Nation, the Tanasi Council, and Remnant Yuchi Nation. The majority of residents of the state are of English and Scotch-Irish ancestry.

The state ranks 37th out of 50 states for its Asian American population. The most common ancestries include: American (17.3%), African American (13%), Irish (9.3%), English (9.1%) and German (8.3%). It's estimated that about one quarter of the residents are of predominantly English ancestry.

Race Data via US Census (2016 ACS 1-Year Survey)

Languages Spoken in Tennessee

Language Population Percentage
Kru, Ibo, Yoruba2,2900.04%

This chart shows the top 10 languages that are spoken at home in Tennessee. The data comes from the most recent release of the American Community Survey (ACS).

Tennessee Economy

High school graduate or higher 84.9%
Bachelor's degree or higher 24.4%
With a Disability 11.2%
Persons Without Health Insurance 14.1%
In Civilian Labor Force 61.1%
In Civilian Labor Force (Female) 56.4%
Food Services Sales $12,499,013
Health Care Revenue $42,383,683,000
Manufacturers Shipments $139,960,482,000
Merchant Wholesaler Sales $111,718,421,000
Total Retail Sales $91,641,605,000
Total Retail Sales per Capita $14,194
Mean Travel Time to Work 24.4 minutes
Median Household Income $44,621
Per Capita Income (past 12 months) $24,811
Persons in Poverty 18.3%

This chart shows the employment and labor force participation rates in Tennessee for residents over 16 years of age. The 2015 unemployment rate is 5.1% and the labor force participation rate is 61.3%.

Tennessee Business

Total Nonemployer Establishments 487,341
All firms 550,453
Men-owned Firms 302,249
Women-owned Firms 195,694
Minority-owned Firms 105,234
Nonminority-owned Firms 434,025
Veternan-owned Firms 59,379
Nonveteran-owned Firms 469,392

Tennessee Housing

Housing Units 2,812,133
Owner Occupied Housing Rate 67.1%
Median Value Owner Occupied Housing Units $139,900
Median Monthly Owner Costs (w/Mortgage) $1,197
Median Monthly Owner Costs (no mortgage) $359
Median Gross Rent $757
Building Permits 32,219
Households 2,487,349
Persons per Household 2.53 persons
Living in Same House 1 Year Ago 84.6%
Language Other than English Spoken at Home 6.8%
Data Sources
  1. Tennessee State Data Center
  2. US Census State Population Estimates - Most recent state estimates from the Census Bureau's Population Estimates Program
  3. US Census County Population Estimates - Most recent county estimates from the Census Bureau's Population Estimates Program
  4. American Community Survey (2009 - 2013)
  5. Census QuickFacts
  6. Historical Populations of States and Counties (1790 - 1990)