Tennessee Population 2021

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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 since the estimate of 6,600,2996 in 2016.

Tennessee Area and Population Density

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. 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 west 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.

For a breakdown of which of 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 Gender and Religion Statistics

The median age among the state of Tennessee is approximately 38.5 years of age. When examining the ratio of females to males, the current statistics show females at 51.3% and males at 48.7%.

In terms of religious preferences across the state's population, 81% are affiliated with a Christian based faith, 3% are affiliated with non-Christian based faiths, and 14% are unaffiliated with any particular faith.

Tennessee Boundary, Census, and Statehood 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 Demographics

According to the most recent ACS, the racial composition of Tennesseewas:

  • White: 77.58%
  • Black or African American: 16.76%
  • Two or more races: 2.20%
  • Asian: 1.75%
  • Other race: 1.38%
  • Native American: 0.27%
  • Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander: 0.06%

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.

Tennessee Population Projections

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.

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 the diverse 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.

Tennessee Growth Rate

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Tennessee Population Rank

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Tennessee Population 2021

  • 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 Facts

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 Growth Rate by County

Tennessee Population Density by County

Population by Race

Race Population Percentage
Black or African American1,124,47316.76%
Two or More Races147,5362.20%
Some Other Race92,6551.38%
American Indian and Alaska Native18,1890.27%
Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander3,7710.06%

Tennessee Population by Race

Tennessee Population Pyramid $2021


Tennessee Median Age







Tennessee Adults

There are 5,204,436 adults, (1,075,124 of whom are seniors) in Tennessee.

Tennessee Age Dependency


Age Dependency Ratio


Old Age Dependency Ratio


Child Dependency Ratio

Tennessee Sex Ratio







Tennessee Population by Age

Tennessee Renter vs Owner Occupied by Household Type

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Tennessee Household Types

Type Owner Renter
Non Family53%47%


Rate of Home Ownership

Tennessee Households and Families

Type Count Average Size Owned
Non Family888,322153


Average Family Size


Average Household Size


Tennessee Households by Type

Education Attained Count Percentage
Less Than 9th Grade210,7324.59%
9th to 12th Grade364,3967.94%
High School Graduate1,472,00332.09%
Some College951,75520.75%
Associates Degree334,3627.29%
Bachelors Degree789,44817.21%
Graduate Degree464,69710.13%

Tennessee Educational Attainment by Sex (over 25)

Tennessee Educational Attainment by Race

Race Total High School Bachelors
2+ Races56,23849,09616,231
Other Race46,56226,6246,841
Native American13,37810,9842,836

The highest rate of high school graduation is among white people with a rate of 89.01%.

The highest rate of bachelors degrees is among asian people with a rate of 53.93%.

Tennessee Educational Attainment by Race

Name Average Male Female
Less Than 9th Grade$22,491$26,222$17,471
High School Graduate$29,753$34,732$23,746
Some College$34,634$42,542$29,395
Bachelors Degree$49,236$60,928$41,791
Graduate Degree$62,229$79,720$53,497


Average Earnings


Average Male


Average Female

Tennessee Earnings by Educational Attainment

Tennessee Language by Age


Tennessee Language

92.82% of Tennessee residents speak only English, while 7.18% speak other languages. The non-English language spoken by the largest group is Spanish, which is spoken by 4.15% of the population.

Tennessee Language

Tennessee Poverty by Race

Name Total In Poverty Poverty Rate


Overall Poverty Rate


Male Poverty Rate


Female Poverty Rate

Poverty in Tennessee

The race most likely to be in poverty in Tennessee is Other, with 29.10% below the poverty level.

The race least likely to be in poverty in Tennessee is Asian, with 10.25% below the poverty level.

The poverty rate among those that worked full-time for the past 12 months was 3.08%. Among those working part-time, it was 18.73%, and for those that did not work, the poverty rate was 22.91%.

Tennessee Poverty

Name Poverty
Less Than 9th Grade28.09%
High School14.96%
Some College9.99%
Bachelors or Greater4.17%

Tennessee Poverty Rate by Education

Rate Poverty
Female Unemployed39.34%
Male Unemployed32.62%
Female Employed8.18%
Male Employed5.89%

Tennessee Poverty Rate by Employment Status and Sex

Tennessee Income by Household Type

Name Median Mean
Married Families$79,694$103,145
Non Families$31,561$45,524

Income by Household Type

Tennessee Marital Status

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Marriage Rates


Overall Marriage Rate


Male Marriage Rate


Female Marriage Rate

Tennessee Married by Age and Sex


Tennessee Marriage

The age group where males are most likely to be married is Over 65, while the female age group most likely to be married is 45-54.

Tennessee Marital Status by Race

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Tennessee Marital Status



Number of Veterans


Male Veterans


Female Veterans

War Veterans
First Gulf War94,922
Second Gulf War83,021
World War II10,483

Tennessee Veterans by War

Age Group Veterans
65 to 74116,789
35 to 54104,725
55 to 6482,343
18 to 3437,773

Tennessee Veterans by Age

Name Veterans % of Total
2+ Races5,8727.92%
Native American1,94113.00%
Other Race1,2952.28%

Tennessee Veterans by Race

Tennessee Veterans by Education



Veteran Poverty Rate


Veteran Disability Rate

Tennessee Veterans by Education



Labor Force Participation


Employment Rate


Unemployment Rate

Tennessee Employment by Age


Tennessee Employment by Race


Tennessee Employment by Education

Origin of Non-Citizens


Non citizens include legal permanent residents (green card holders), international students, temporary workers, humanitarian migrants, and illegal immigrants.

Origin of Naturalized Citizens



Born in Tennessee


Native Born


Foreign Born


Non Citizen



Place of Birth

94.87% of Tennessee residents were born in the United States, with 59.84% having been born in Tennessee. 3.13% of residents are not US citizens. Of those not born in the United States, the largest percentage are from Latin America.

Tennessee Place of Birth

  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)