by Jon Styf
The Nashville metropolitan area was the 20th-fastest growing statistical area in the country since 2010, according to data released by the U.S. Census Bureau.
With a growth rate of 20.9% from 2010 to 2020, the Nashville area now is the 36th-largest metropolitan area in the country with nearly 2 million residents. The census numbers showed the metro Nashville population increased by 343,319 people to 1,989,519.
Tennessee’s population grew by 8.9% between 2010 and 2020; lower than the 11.5% and 16.7% increases during the previous two census counts. Four of the past six census counts have shown double-digit increases in Tennessee’s population growth.
Tennessee’s population grew by 564,000 residents over the past 10 years to 6,910,840.
“Although our growth rate was slightly lower last decade, the 2020 population counts did exceed the pre-census estimate of an 8.3 percent increase,” said Tim Kuhn, director of the Tennessee State Data Center. “We have to wait to learn more, but we are very thankful to Tennesseans who completed the census and to the public and private leaders across the state who helped promote a complete count of our residents.”
Shelbyville ranked as the 27th-fastest growing micropolitan (10,000 to 50,000 residents) in the country at 11.5% growth. Trousdale County just northeast of Nashville was the eighth-fastest growing county in the country.
“Many counties within metro areas saw growth, especially those in the south and west. However, as we’ve been seeing in our annual population estimates, our nation is growing slower than it used to,” Marc Perry, a senior demographer at the U.S. Census Bureau, said after the data release. “This decline is evident at the local level where around 52% of the counties in the United States saw their 2020 Census populations decrease from their 2010 Census populations.”
The six Tennessee counties that saw more than 20% population increases over the past 10 years all surrounded Nashville: Trousdale (47.8%), Williamson (35.2%), Rutherford (30%), Wilson (29.6%), Montgomery (27.7%), Maury (24.7%) and Sumner (22.2%).
Lake County in far northeast Tennessee saw the largest population dip at 10.8%; 30 counties statewide lost population during the 10-year span.
The state also experienced a 65% increase in its Hispanic or Latino population, which now makes up 6.9% of the state’s population. There was a slight increase in the state’s white population, but as a percentage of the state’s population, the white population went from 77.6% to 72.2% for 2020. The state’s second-largest ethnicity remains Black residents, which saw a 3.4% increase in overall population but dropped from 16.7% of the overall population in 2010 to 15.8% of the overall population in 2020.
Thursday’s data release by the U.S. Census Bureau starts the redistricting process in the state.
The population numbers will be used as the Republican majority in the General Assembly continues work on redistricting for U.S. House of Representatives seats and state legislative boundaries. The voting districts need to have a similar number of voters, so areas such as west Tennessee and the northern parts of east and middle Tennessee will see larger geographical districts while the suburbs of Nashville – the center of the state’s population growth – will see smaller districts.
“The redistricting data are very important numbers for cities and counties across the state,” Kuhn said. “Rebalancing population among political districts is the most obvious use. But these data are also used to assess a community’s growth and look at housing vacancy rates, and they are incorporated into funding formulas. These uses are all dependent on the more detailed census data that will come later this summer.”
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Jon Styf is a regular contributor to The Center Square.