Rate of population growth in Arizona a fraction of what it was five years ago - East Valley Tribune: Arizona

Rate of population growth in Arizona a fraction of what it was five years ago

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Posted: Wednesday, June 23, 2010 4:55 pm | Updated: 8:04 pm, Thu Jun 24, 2010.

If there was any question about the growth spurt of Arizona cities being over, some new figures from the U.S. Census Bureau should put that to rest.

The report shows that most communities in the state continued to add residents in the year ending last July 1. But the rate of growth is in most cases just a fraction of what it was half a decade earlier.

Consider Gilbert which grew by 7 percent in the year ending July 1, 2004. That was enough to rank it among the top 10 in the whole nation of cities of 100,000 or more.

By July 2008 the year-over-year growth had slipped to 4.8 percent. And the most recent annual figure was just 2.5 percent.

Further out from the population center, Queen Creek exploded between 2003 and 2004 with a nearly 48 percent increase in residents. By this past year that had slowed to just 9.4 percent.

The pattern is the same throughout much of the rest of the state, though not always as striking.

Sahaurita's one-year growth rate of 10.8 percent was enough to lead the entire state. But it is only about half the rate the town was adding residents a half decade earlier.

And Tucson grew a respectable 1.5 percent in the year ending July 2004. By July of 2008 that had dropped to 0.7 percent; for the year ending last July it slipped, again, to just a 0.6 percent.

That change in the rate of growth in Arizona cities should not be surprising, as it mirrors what is happening in the state as a whole.

The most recent year-over-year increase in population for the state was pegged at 1.5 percent. That compares with a 2.2 percent annual growth the prior 12-month period - and a 2.9 percent growth rate between 2003 and 2004.

Still, some Arizona communities are managing to continue to grow by leaps and bounds.

While Sahaurita with a July 2009 population of 20,267 tops the growth rate, it is followed by Queen Creek at 9.4 percent, with Buckeye, Goodyear and Somerton rounding out the top five in the highest one-year percentage growth.

Half a decade ago, Queen Creek was at the top of the list, with Sahaurita placing only third.

One big shock in the new numbers is what has happened to Maricopa.

That community west of Casa Grande wasn't even incorporated the last time the Census Bureau sent out its counters. But rising property values made it into a bedroom community for people working in the Phoenix area despite the commuting distance.

It was exploding from an estimated 1,622 residents at the beginning of the decade to more than 26,000 now.

But the boom that produced that growth has now imploded, to the point where the community actually lost residents between 2008 and 2009 after a 19 percent growth rate between 2007 and 2008.

Still, Maricopa grew more than any other Arizona community since the 2000 census, with its 2,655 percent growth rate dwarfing the close to 600 percent increase in Queen Creek and population growth in the 450 percent range for both Buckeye and Sahaurita since the beginning of the decade.

Maricopa, however, is not alone in its decline in the most recent report. Several communities tied to mining also lost population in the most recent year recorded, including Winkelman, Miami, Hayden and Globe.

Other communities recording declines include Patagonia, Cottonwood and Camp Verde.

City / 7-1-09 population / 1 year growth / since 2000

Arizona / 6,595,778 / 1.5% / 28.6%

Apache Junction / 34,284 / 2.3% / 7.5%

Chandler / 255,230 / 0.9% / 44.3%

Gilbert / 217,285 / 2.5% / 89.4%

Mesa / 462,486 / 0.7% / 16.2%

Phoenix / 1,601,587 / 1.5% / 21.1%

Queen Creek / 26,103 / 9.4% / 597.0%

Scottsdale / 238,715 / 0.9% / 17.8%

Tempe / 174,255 / 1.6% / 9.9%

Source: U.S. Census Bureau data analyzed by Capitol Media Services

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