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Tennessee Special Census Procedures Get Minor Update

Additional specification about the format of resident rosters has been added but other procedures for the upcoming Special Census season remain unchanged.

Cities and towns in Tennessee that are preparing to gather updated population counts for the state’s 2023/2024 Certified Population Report should check the newly revised procedures for additional specifications about the format of the resident roster.

Roster data is collected by the municipality conducting a special census and includes the addresses of housing units as well as names of each resident. The roster is submitted to the development district conducting quality control checks on behalf of the city or town, and then to the Boyd Center for Business and Economic Research for additional review prior to final certification.

On our website:

Download the Microsoft Excel sample roster that can be used for field data collection and is compatible with new Special Census submission requirements.

The new procedures now specify that the following columns of information are required to be submitted for each housing unit.

  • House Number
  • Street Name*
  • Unit number (if applicable)
  • City
  • County
  • Zip Code
  • Resident(s) first and last name

*Note that additional fields containing a directional street name prefix or suffix should also be included when those house numbering devices are implemented in the community.

The procedural revisions also include directions for the layout of special census records, which are required to be digitally submitted in a spreadsheet or comma separated valued (CSV) format.

Communities may submit resident rosters in one of two record layouts:

Roster Format Option 1:  One row per housing unit

Details about the resident(s) in each housing unit are recorded in a single row of a spreadsheet or database. Each row contains details of a single, unique address within the special census area with additional columns capturing the name of each resident.

Roster Format Option 2:  One row per person

Details about each resident are recorded in a single row of a spreadsheet or database. Each row contains the details for a single person within the special census area with columns detailing the full name and address information.

The new procedures are available for download on the Tennessee State Data Center Special Census website. Important deadlines for the upcoming year include:

  • January 1, 2022: Deadline to submit a letter of intent to the Boyd Center
  • March 1, 2023: Deadline to submit special census documentation to approved agency for review and field verification
  • May 15, 2023: Deadline to submit special census documentation to the Boyd Center

About the Tennessee Special Census Program

A special census is a process outlined in Tennessee statutes to update the population of a Tennessee county or municipality in the years following the U.S. Census Bureau’s counts collected at the beginning of each decade.

A community in Tennessee typically conducts its own special census of residents, but it may also choose to contract with the Special Census section at the U.S. Census Bureau to conduct the enumeration.

Certain portions of some state revenues are distributed to counties and municipalities based on the figures reported annually in the Certified Population of Tennessee Incorporated Municipalities and Counties. Unless a special census has been conducted and subsequently certified by the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development (TNECD), the population count from the latest decennial census is used.

Growth in a community, annexation, new municipal incorporation or dispute with the federal counts are common reasons a special census is conducted.