The Nashville area saw greater growth than the rest of the state in 2013, continuing a recent boom that has made the region one of the most attractive in the nation.
Yet one population expert said rising housing costs and living expenses could tamp down that growth before long — although if the job opportunities that fueled the recent rise continue to surge, so might the pace of growth.
Some 21,438 people moved into the Nashville metro area — which includes especially fast-growing Franklin and Murfreesboro — in 2013, according to new U.S. Census Bureau data out today.
Nashville and bordering counties welcomed more newcomers last year than any other part of Tennessee. Williamson and Rutherford counties added more people than even Chattanooga and Knoxville.
And in the past four years, while Nashville was adding almost 17,000 people, Memphis lost more than 8,000.
Job prospects and cost of living typically attract newcomers — two factors that might butt heads soon locally, said David Padgett, Tennessee State University associate professor of geography.
“Certainly we are growing, but we have less and less affordability in terms of housing,” he said. “But we know job growth isn’t slowing here. Every time we open the paper, there’s some new business opening here.”
Nashville remains younger than the rest of Tennessee, although the median age of 34.3 ticked upward as the population over age 65 grew. The Census Bureau found aging populations nationwide in all but seven states.
The city’s Hispanic population is approaching 10 percent, double the state’s rate, which also is rising. That has helped keep Nashville’s median age low in what is typically a youthful community.
Nicholas Lindeman, geographer with the Nashville Metropolitan Planning Organization, said Hispanics and the student population explain only part of the city’s youth.
“It also reflects that Nashville attracts young persons looking for a vibrant, active region with good employment prospects and a low cost of living,” he wrote in an email. “It puts Middle Tennessee on more people’s radars, be it graduating college students looking to get started, young families looking for a place to settle and raise children or businesses looking to relocate to take advantage of our low business costs.”
Yet Lindeman cautioned that growth can threaten the charm or sense of place in the region.
“The growth,” he said, “could lead to negative consequences if regional infrastructure, especially in K-12 education and transportation, fails to keep up.”
While Davidson County has picked up the most residents of anywhere in the state, the rate of growth was even greater in neighboring cities.
Franklin’s rate of growth ranked 14th nationwide. Murfreesboro ranked 39th.
Nashville metro area (includes Franklin and Murfreesboro)
incoming residents in 2013
incoming residents, 2010 to 2013
Top 40 cities
Franklin’s 2013 growth rate ranked 14th among cities with at least 50,000 residents. Murfreesboro ranked 39th.
Top growth counties in 2013
Rate of growthTotal population gain1. Williamson1. Davidson2. Rutherford2. Williamson3. Wilson3. Rutherford4. Maury4. Wilson5. Sequatchie5. Sumner
Top growth counties, 2010 through 2013
1. Davidson +16,954
2. Williamson +12,284
3. Rutherford +11,908
4. Hamilton +9,572
5. Knox +8,482
* Shelby County shrank by 8,291 residents in that time.
The state population now includes 320,000 Hispanic residents, or about 4.9 percent.
Percentage of Tennesseans over 65, a growing number
Tennessee median age
37.6 years old
The median age ticks upward, with the populations aging in all but seven states.
44.7 million Americans over 65
The senior population grew 3.6 percent in 2013.
19.4 million Asians
Asians and Hispanics remain the fastest-growing groups.