Mesa use to lay claim to the fastest-growing city in the country when waves of people moved there in the 1970s, '80s and early '90s.
The U.S. Census Bureau says its latest estimate shows Mesa falling from the 38th largest city in the nation to 39th.
The census bureau put the city at 462,486 people as of July 1, 2009. It estimates the city grew by 3,300 people from the previous year.
But it's possible Mesa may have lost population.
Using figures from city utilities, trash collections fell by 12 percent between July 2007 and July 2010. Bus ridership is down. Apartment-rental rates also have declined. And Mesa Public Schools now teach 7,000 fewer students than in 2005.
Population is all import for federal and state dollars for everything from roads to schools.