It could be the fascination with spirits. Or simply the state’s changing demographics. But there were more boys born this year in Arizona whose parents named them Angel than anything else.
The figures released Friday show what has been a steady upward trend for the name, which wasn’t even in the top 20 a decade ago. In fact, it took until 2003 for the name to crack the top 10.
Angel nudged out Jacob for the top slot. And Jose, which was the most popular name last year, slipped to third.
The biblical hold over boys’ names tightened this year, with all of the 10 most popular coming from the Good Book. By contrast, only eight of the top 10 a decade ago were from the same list.
That isn’t the case for girls, perhaps because there are fewer women mentioned in Judeo-Christian literature.
In fact, it isn’t until Abigail, in the No. 7 spot, that a name from the Bible shows up. And that is a relatively obscure reference in the Book of Samuel.
Emily tightened its stranglehold on the most popular name for girls, taking the top spot for the fourth year in a row. Yet it wasn’t even in the top 20 two decades ago.
The list of popular girls’ names also includes several that have remained popular in recent years, including Ashley, Isabella and Samantha. But there is one surprise: Mia leaped from nowhere in 2003 to 17th last year — and second this year.
And it’s not like there has been anyone in pop culture named Mia for a while — at least not since soccer star Mia Hamm or actress Mia Farrow who once dated Frank Sinatra and lived with Woody Allen.
Some of the trends in Arizona are because of changing demographics.
In 2003, the number of babies born to Hispanic women finally edged out the number of newborns to women who identified themselves as non-Hispanic whites, according to figures from the Arizona Department of Health Services. That trend has continued for the last two years.
That all is due to higher fertility rates and larger family sizes, as Hispanics actually make up less than 30 percent of the state population, according to DHS.
Christopher Mrela, assistant registrar of vital statistics, said the volatility among popular names may mean less than it seems.
He pointed out that Angel got to the top spot by being the choice of 564 parents. But that was out of more than 45,000 boys born during the year.
Similarly, there were more than 43,000 girls born in Arizona in 2005, of which only 478 were named Emily.