Rural Tennesseans are Older than Urban Tennesseans, but Frequently Just as Diverse

Aug. 2, 2017 – An analysis of recently released U. S. Census data by nonpartisan think tank ThinkTennessee reveals significant differences, and surprising similarities, among urban and rural Tennesseans.

The major findings of the analysis of 2016 demographic information about Tennessee counties include the following:

  • Tennessee is more “gray” than the nation overall, but the proportion of seniors is especially pronounced in rural Tennessee.
  • Both urban and rural Tennessee communities are home to diverse populations.
  • Urban and rural Tennessee alike have disability rates above the national average, though rates outside the cities are highest.
  • There are few short drives to work in Tennessee, but travel times are worst in the ring counties just beyond the suburbs.

“Whether urban or rural, many Tennesseans will face similar challenges over the coming years,” said Bob Cooper, ThinkTennessee board chair. “Although some issues are more pronounced in rural communities, across the state we see disability rates higher than the national average, long commute times and an aging workforce. This important information underscores the need to craft statewide and local solutions to meet the needs of all Tennesseans.”

This analysis is a follow-up to Our Changing State, a June 2017 ThinkTennessee report that highlighted four trends transforming our statewide population.

Read the full follow-up analysis here.