Nashville's metro area had a population increase of 178,069 from people moving to the area in the last decade while the Memphis area's net gain was only 18,481, census and birth-death numbers show.
"Demographic growth and economic growth go hand in hand," said John Gnuschke, director of the Sparks Bureau of Business and Economic Research at the University of Memphis. "In-migration is a key indicator of economic vitality. In choosing the Nashville area, people found a place where they would like to live and could find work."
Gnuschke said the Nashville area performed better than the Memphis area in generating job opportunities during the decade.
"Memphis, like many other major cities, struggled to keep its head above water during a decade-long period of a jobless economy recovery followed by the Great Recession," he said.
"Nashville also has the advantage of having a number of sizable, high-growth, primarily residential counties in its metro area. Those counties provide an attractive environment for families, while the broader metro area provides the job opportunities necessary to sustain growth."
The 13-county Nashville metro area includes four highgrowth, high in-migration counties: Rutherford, Williamson, Sumner, and Wilson.
The eight-county Memphis metro area has only one similar high-population, suburban county, DeSoto in Misssissippi, and two smaller-population, counties, Fayette and Tipton.
As in the Memphis area, most of the Nashville area's population growth is occurring in suburban counties rather than in the central county (Davidson).
The determination on which counties are included in a metropolitan statistical area is based on census data under guidelines set by the federal Office of Management and Budget.