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 may benefit from additional state revenues that are distributed on a per capita basis if a certified special census reflects increased in population from growth or annexation. State Data Center staff at the Boyd Center for Business and Economic Research administer the program in conjunction with the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development (TNECD).
Communities that are considering conducting a special census should carefully review the procedures document. It was created to convey general information on special census procedures.
Common Special Census Questions
At the beginning of each decade, the results of the federal census of Tennessee become the basis for distribution of certain of state revenues shared with cities and counties.
Growth in a community, annexation, new municipal incorporation or dispute with the federal counts are common reasons a special census is conducted.
For self-enumeration, typical tasks can include:
- Advance outreach and marketing to inform residents
- Developing address lists
- Contacting residents
- Door-to-door follow-up to non-respondents
In the cases of annexations or new incorporation, data from the latest federal census can be used. The procedures document provides additional information for each case.
Depending on the purpose of the special census, additional restrictions on the number of special censuses may apply. The procedures document provides an overview of other instances, and provides references to the relevant portions of the Tennessee Code.
- January 1: Deadline to submit a letter of intent to the Boyd Center
- March 1: Deadline to submit special census documentation to approved agency for review and field verification
- May 15: Deadline to submit special census documentation to the Boyd Center
Tennessee’s nine Development Districts play in important role in this regard, verifying the completeness and accuracy of a special census. Through arrangements with the community conducting the census, a Development District is contracted to conduct a random checks of households; polling at least 10% of the residents listed in the census to ensure error does not exceed 5%.
Interactive Map of Special Censuses (2010-2020)
Fifty-four incorporated municipalities in Tennessee conducted a special census since the 2010 decennial census data were released in 2011. These include partial counts of newly annexed areas and complete city-wide counts. No counties completed a special census since 2010.
After launching the map, click on a city or town to see its 2010 population, special censuses and 2020 certified population.
For more information or questions about the Tennessee Special Census program contact:
Tim Kuhn, Director
Tennessee State Data Center
Boyd Center for Business and Economic Research
University of Tennessee
713 Stokely Management Center
916 Volunteer Blvd.
Knoxville, TN 37996