New figures from the U.S. Census Bureau confirm a trend Queen Creek has noted for the past few years: the rate of population growth has slowed in most Arizona communities.
In Arizona cities, the pace of growth between July 1, 2007 and a year later is only half that of the 12 months preceding.
The pattern is especially evident in what had been the "hot" growth communities of the first half of the decade, those in what had been the exurbs.
Queen Creek saw its year-over-year growth rate nearly sliced in half. The community grew 8.9 percent between 2007 and 2008, versus 17.2 percent between 2006 and 2007.
Queen Creek's population in July 208 was estimated at 24,361.
Town officials already noticed that trend through a slowdown in housing permits, which peaked in 2005-06 with 1,200 permits and plummeted to 176 in 2008-09.
The town issued 635 permits in 2006-07 and 268 in 2007-08.
Queen Creek is expecting those figures to slide further, projecting 100 home permits in the new fiscal year. However, officials have said those are conservative estimates.
Queen Creek is far from the only city that has seen declining growth. For instance, Fountain Hills saw its population growth rate drop by half.
Lake Havasu City found its 1.1 percent growth rate between 2006 and 2007 slashed to just 0.2 percent. And Flagstaff grew at just half the rate in 2008 as the prior period.
Several small communities lost population. The one that was not surprising was Colorado City on the Arizona-Utah border, vacated by many members of the Fundamentalist Church of Latter Day Saints after Warren Jeffs, its leader, was arrested.
But despite the slowdown in many Arizona towns, some still showed strong growth.
Gilbert, for example, added more than 10,000 people in a single year. That is a 5 percent increase in one year, only a slight dropoff from the 5.3 percent annual increase the prior year.
Comparatively, that's still remarkable growth: The U.S. Census Bureau reports Gilbert grew at the second-fastest rate among communities of more than 100,000 in the nation. It added more than 100,000 residents since the 2000 census, putting its population on July 1, 2008 at 216,449, an 88 percent increase.
Two other Arizona cities also were in the top 20 nationwide of rapidly growing communities of more than 100,000: Peoria with a 45 percent growth rate since 2000 and Chandler at 39.5 percent.
Overall, Arizona grew at a rate of 2.3 percent in the year ending July 1, 2008, compared to 2.8 percent the year before. And the state population is up close to 31 percent since the 2000 census.