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Population

Description: 

Estimates of the population, expressed as of July 1, are available annually from the U.S. Census Bureau for the nation, states, and counties. A long time series of annual estimates (back to 1929) is available from the Census Bureau. The population estimates produced by the Census Bureau are used in formulas that determine the distribution of funding from many federal programs. The Office of Employment and Population Statistics (OEPS) in the Arizona Department of Administration also produces estimates annually for Arizona and its counties, but these figures are not directly comparable to those for the nation or other states; consistent data are available only back to 2000.

Population data from the Census Bureau are presented on Arizona Indicators since 1969 for the United States, Arizona, and the 15 Arizona counties. State and national data are reported in December. County data are released in March. The population change for Arizona and its counties since 2010 from the Census Bureau is compared to the estimates of the OEPS, which are released in December.

Data Source: 

U.S. Department of Commerce, Census Bureau. The latest data can be obtained at http://www.census.gov/popest/index.html but the historical data are more easily accessed from the U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of Economic Analysis: http://www.bea.gov/regional/index.htm.

Arizona Department of Administration, Office of Employment and Population Statistics: http://www.workforce.az.gov/population-estimates.aspx.

Data Quality Comments: 

Other than the birth and death components, the change in population is estimated, benchmarked to the latest decennial census count. Estimates for the prior 10 years are revised when a new decennial census count becomes available.

Since the Census Bureau uses a standard methodology for the entire nation, it did not take into consideration the impacts of Arizona’s “employer sanctions law,” which took effect at the beginning of 2008. Nearly 100,000 undocumented immigrants were estimated to leave Arizona due to this law in the first year. Thus, the Census Bureau’s 2000-to-2010 time series is not representative of the annual population change in the state. The estimates since 2010 also appear to overstate immigration to Arizona.

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Three of five residents of Arizona live in Maricopa County. More than 80 percent live in the Phoenix and Tucson metropolitan areas.

The annual population estimates shown in the chart are benchmarked to each of the decennial censuses. However, since the Census Bureau uses the same methodology for the entire nation, it cannot incorporate unusual situations in a specific area. For example, the passage of the “employer sanctions law” in Arizona in 2008 led to an increase in the out-migration of undocumented immigrants not reflected in the Census Bureau estimates. Thus, the Census Bureau likely underestimated population growth in Arizona and its counties from 2000 through 2007 and overestimated the growth in subsequent years.

Note on missing data for all trended county data: La Paz County was created in 1982, as the then-existing Yuma County was split into La Paz County and a smaller Yuma County.

iconPopulation, Percent Change, 2014

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The estimated increase in population in 2014 in Arizona of 1.5 percent was about double the national average of 0.7 percent, according to Census Bureau estimates. The population decreased in four Arizona counties and rose at or less than the national average rate in six others. The state’s higher-than national average growth rate was due to increases of 2.8 percent in Pinal County and 1.8 percent in populous Maricopa County.

iconPopulation, Percent Change

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Percentage population growth in Arizona typically ranges from twice as fast as the national average during recessions to three times as fast in other years. However, the estimates for 2009 through 2011 show growth in Arizona only a little greater than the U.S. average. Since 2011, the population has increased at a faster pace in Arizona while the U.S. average has not changed.

Since the estimates for Arizona do not reflect the impacts of the “employer sanctions law” that went into effect at the beginning of 2008, the estimated changes for 2008 and the next few years likely were too high and the changes for the 2001-through-2007 period likely understate slightly the actual population changes.

Note on missing data for all trended county data: La Paz County was created in 1982, as the then-existing Yuma County was split into La Paz County and a smaller Yuma County.

iconNumeric Population Change, Arizona

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Annual estimates of the population change in Arizona vary considerably between the Census Bureau and the Office of Employment and Population Statistics (OEPS), even though both time series are benchmarked to the 2000 and 2010 decennial census counts. Compared to the Census Bureau, the OEPS shows greater numeric gains from 2003 through 2007 and lesser gains from 2008 through 2012. The Census Bureau’s estimates include little reduction in immigration after 2007 despite the passage of Arizona’s Employer Sanctions Law, though evidence exists that many undocumented immigrants left the state. Thus, the Census Bureau likely underestimated the state’s population gain between 2000 and 2007 and overstated the increases from 2008 through 2012. In 2013 and 2014, the Census Bureau and OEPS estimates are not too dissimilar. Each source shows that population gains are gradually rising, but remain well below the figures from before 2008.

iconNumeric Population Change in Arizona and Populous Counties, July 1, 2013 To July 1, 2014

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The Census Bureau’s estimates of the population change between mid-2013 and mid-2014 in Arizona and in the metro Phoenix area are somewhat higher than that of the Office of Employment and Population Statistics (OEPS). However, the Census Bureau’s estimates of the numeric gain in Pima County is lower than the estimate from the OEPS.

iconNumeric Population Change in Arizona's Less Populous Counties, July 1, 2013 To July 1, 2014

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In half of the less populous counties, the population change in 2014 estimated by the Census Bureau is greater than that of the Office of Employment and Population Statistics (OEPS), but the differences are small except in Yavapai County. In contrast, in the six counties for which the Census Bureau’s gain is less than that of the OEPS, the differences are considerable in Cochise, Coconino, and Yuma counties.

Data Source

U.S. Department of Commerce, Census Bureau. The latest data can be obtained at http://www.census.gov/popest/index.html but the historical data are more easily accessed from the U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of Economic Analysis: http://www.bea.gov/regional/index.htm.

Arizona Department of Administration, Office of Employment and Population Statistics: http://www.workforce.az.gov/population-estimates.aspx.