Tennessee Population 2017


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 2016 is 6.6 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 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 State Rank

Year Pop % Change
2020 6,862,899 0.77%
2019 6,810,379 0.78%
2018 6,757,859 0.78%
2017 6,705,339 0.79%
2016 6,652,819 0.80%
2015 6,600,299 0.80%
2014 6,547,779 0.80%
2013 6,496,130 0.63%
2012 6,455,469 0.89%
2011 6,398,408 0.82%
2010 6,346,105 1.10%
2000 5,689,283 1.55%
1990 4,877,185 0.61%
1980 4,591,120 1.58%
1970 3,923,687 0.96%
1960 3,567,089 0.81%
1950 3,291,718 1.22%
1940 2,915,841 1.09%
1930 2,616,556 1.13%
1920 2,337,885 0.68%
1910 2,184,789 0.78%
1900 2,020,616 1.35%
1890 1,767,518 1.37%
1880 1,542,359 2.05%
1870 1,258,520 1.27%
1860 1,109,801 1.02%
1850 1,002,717 1.92%
1840 829,210 1.98%
1830 681,904 4.90%
1820 422,813 4.91%
1810 261,727 9.50%
1800 105,602 11.46%
1790 35,691 0.00%

Tennessee Facts

Tennessee Population in 2017 Source: 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

  • Population
  • Density
  • Growth Since 2010
  • State Rank
  • % of State

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.

Population Pyramid

To compare Tennessee to other states, click here.

Population by Race

Race Population Percentage

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.

Languages Spoken in Tennessee

Language Population Percentage
Population 5 years and over 5,998,956 100
English 5,682,521 94.73
Spanish 232,395 3.87
German 13,920 0.23
French 11,750 0.2
Chinese 10,770 0.18
Amharic 3,610 0.06
Kurdish 3,065 0.05
Telugu 2,560 0.04
Portuguese 2,315 0.04

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

Tennessee Economy

HighSchoolGraduate 85
BachelorsDegree 24
Disabled 11
NoHealthInsurance 14
LaborForceTotal 61
LaborForceFemale 56
FoodServiceSales 12,499,013
HealthCareRevenue 42,383,683
ManufacturerShipments 139,960,482
MerchantWholesalesSales 111,718,421
RetailSales 91,641,605
RetailSalesPerCapita 14,194
MeanWorkTravelTime 24
MedianHouseholdIncome 44,621
PerCapitaIncome 24,811
PovertyPercentage 18

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

NonemployerEstablishments 487,341
AllFirms 550,453
MenOwnedFirms 302,249
WomenOwnedFirms 195,694
MinorityOwnedFirms 105,234
NonminorityOwnedFirms 434,025
VeteranOwnedFirms 59,379
NonveteranOwn 469,392

Tennessee Housing

HousingUnits 2,892,305
HousingUnits 2,812,133
OwnerOccupiedRate 67
OwnerOccupiedMedianValue 139,900
MonthlyOwnerCostsMortage 1,197
MonthlyOwnerCostsNoMortage 359
MedianGrossRent 757
BuildingPermits 32,219
Households 2,487,349
PersonsPerHousehold 3
SameHouseOneYearAgo 85
NonEnglishAtHome 7
Data Sources
  1. Census State Population Estimates - Most recent state estimates from the Census Bureau's Population Estimates Program - released 6/23/2016
  2. Census County Population Estimates - Most recent county estimates from the Census Bureau's Population Estimates Program - released 6/23/2016
  3. American Community Survey (2009 - 2013)
  4. Census QuickFacts