The recent increase in the rate of growth in the black population has important implications for the state's population mix.
by H. Ronald Moser* | print pdf | next
The black population constitutes a significant market in Tennessee and is receiving increased attention from retailers and other business people in the state. Based on U.S. Census data, an estimated 1,057,315 blacks currently reside in Tennessee, accounting for 16.7 percent of the state's total population. According to 2010 Census figures, only 10 states have a larger percentage of nonwhites than Tennessee, and in absolute numbers, only 17 states have a larger nonwhite population. These numbers are the same for the 2000 Census results.
Importance of Minorities
Consideration of the black population is an important subject for many Tennessee business people in general as well as for planners of both public and private facilities and programs. The purpose of this paper, then, is to look at the minority population in Tennessee with respect to size, recent growth, components and sources of changes, and geographic distribution. By describing these patterns, the researcher hopes to provide the reader with considerable data from which conclusions might be drawn (Tomazic and Moser, 1994).
Data on the size and location of any racial, ethnic, or social group can be highly significant. Residency or migration patterns indicate the relative attractiveness or unattractiveness of a state or region. Furthermore, this can yield information about trends in labor markets, housing markets, and general business activity. Such information can also indicate levels of consumer expenditure behavior, income and saving habits, recreational activity, style preferences, and general standards of living. For minorities, residency and migration patterns have often been restricted (Lamon, 1981). However, changes in socioeconomic conditions have served to promote a new minority middle class that is more knowledgeable, confident, and influential. Furthermore, continued development is likely to be accompanied by rising real income with greater influence and more discretionary income. Thus, minorities form a potential market for many goods and services that retailers and other businesses will wish to develop.
Minorities in Tennessee
Racial identification in the 2010 Census was self-determined, and there was no definition provided by the Census for what qualifies a person as a member of a particular racial group. Therefore, the answers to the questions about one's racial background may not have scientific accuracy in every case, and the probability of error increases because of the diversity of backgrounds of American citizens. However, the perception of one's racial or minority status is much more meaningful since it identifies where individuals fit themselves into a society or community. Thus, the data are adequate for most purposes, including the analysis and observations made in this research (Moser and Tomazic, 1986).
Of the 1,545,323 persons in Tennessee who were classified as nonwhites by the 2010 Census, 67.9 percent classified themselves as black, 5.8 percent as Asian or Pacific Islanders, 1.3 percent as American Indian, and 1.0 percent as "other race." Since none of the last three categories contain more than 7 percent of the nonwhites, it seems reasonable to focus on blacks when discussing minorities in Tennessee. Furthermore, blacks are a significant component of the population in many counties in Tennessee, particularly in the Western Division and highly urbanized counties.