Previous year estimates of Mesa’s

Previous year estimates of Mesa’s population by the U.S. Census and Maricopa Association of Governments proved to be a bit high: The final count after the 2020 Census was 504,258, far lower than anticipated but still solidifying Mesa’s spot as the second-largest city in the county. 

Where did everyone go?

Even though the U.S. Census shows Mesa’s population grew to over a half million, solidifying its rank as the second-largest city in Maricopa was still a far cry from earlier projections.

According to Census information released by the Maricopa Association of Governments, Mesa’s official new population is 504,258.

That population is greater than the number of people who live in Pinal County (425,264), and second only in Maricopa County to powerhouse Phoenix (1,608,139).

After Mesa comes Chandler (275,987), Gilbert (267,918), Glendale (248,325) and Scottsdale (241,631).

Mesa’s population grew in the last decade by 65,217, a 15 percent increase from the 439,041 who were counted here in 2010.

Even so ….

The official number for 2020 is far below the U.S. Census 2019 estimate for Mesa of 518,012.

Though some thought Mesa might challenge Tucson as the second-biggest city in the state, it’s not even close: The census counted 542,629 in Tucson.

Jeffrey Robbins, Mesa Census administrator, took the news in cup-half-full stride.

“The city of Mesa grew substantially over the last ten years and is now officially home to over half a million people,” Robbins said.

“We remain the second-largest city in the Phoenix-Mesa metropolitan area and one of the largest 50 cities in the United States.

Considering the explosive growth of Eastmark and Cadence, where some 20,000 people put down roots in the last five years, some might wonder if Mesa got “low-balled” by the counters.

“Although the city of Mesa cannot speak to the accuracy of the 2020 U.S. Census or the estimates and projections used by the U.S. Census Bureau or other agencies, deviations are not unusual historically,” Robbins said. “We experienced similar estimate deviations in 2000 and 2010.”

If the count was low, this might be filed under “blame it on COVID.”

“We recognize that the 2020 Census was conducted during unprecedented circumstances but we cannot speculate to what extent the pandemic may have affected Mesa’s population count,” Robbins said.

Mesa’s self-response rate was 66.3 percent. Maricopa County’s response rate was 68.3 percent, the state response rate was 64.1 percent.

The census triggers “redistricting,” the process of redrawing Mesa’s six City Council districts based on where people live.

Mesa’s Redistricting Commission held multiple holding public meetings this month, including a Zoom meeting Aug. 25.

Comments on redistricting can be emailed to

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