Americans Flocked to Arizona Cities amid COVID-19 Pandemic

by Cole Lauterbach


Whether it was following new opportunities or taking advantage of the untethering of remote work, Arizona’s cities saw significant population growth in 15 months of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The U.S. Census released its annual population estimates for cities and counties Thursday, reflecting changes in municipal populations as of July 1, 2021. Four Arizona cities – Queen Creek, Buckeye, Casa Grande and Maricopa – were among the top 10 in terms of largest percentage of growth in the 12 months ending July 2021.

The rest were in Texas, Florida, and Tennessee.

“Americans are voting with their feet and among the clear winners – again – is Arizona,” CJ Karamargin, spokesperson for Gov. Doug Ducey, told The Center Square. “People from all over the country are choosing to move here. They are consciously deciding they want to raise their families and run their businesses in a state with an exceptional quality of life, low taxes and minimal regulations.”

In April, the Arizona Supreme Court nullified a ballot initiative that would have reversed a law Ducey signed to gradually flatten the state’s progressive tax to 2.5%, the lowest flat tax in the country.

As a whole, America’s largest cities struggled to keep population. New York City’s headcount fell by 336,677 since April 1, 2020. Los Angeles lost a smaller percentage of its population, the city of 3.8 million only losing 44,689 people.

Phoenix was one of only two cities with a population of more than 1 million to add people in the Census period. The city of 1.6 million people gained an estimated 16,830 more between April 2020 and July 2021.

“It’s no accident Phoenix is growing rapidly, attracting global corporations, startups, and legacy companies,” said Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego. “The quality of life here is exceptional and combines with smart policies and a welcoming business operating environment to deliver a diverse ecosystem of opportunities in which workers can obtain high-quality jobs and families can thrive.”

San Antonio, Texas, was the only large city to have added more people than Phoenix in the 12 months ending in July 2021.

Karamargin noted the trend of business relocations or expansions in cities around the valley likely to lure new residents.

“Whether you’re talking about a large metropolitan area like Phoenix or smaller cities like Queen Creek, Buckeye, Casa Grande or Maricopa, the population growth we’re seeing shouldn’t come as a surprise,” he said. “People know Arizona is a land of opportunity. Our welcome mat is out.”

With growth comes growing pains. The Phoenix area’s housing inventory has lingered at record lows. Home sales have skyrocketed upward of 33%, bringing complaints of overpriced homes and rental agreements significantly increasing.

According to Census data, Maricopa County saw 29,935 new housing units in the 12 months ending July 2021, second only to Harris County, Texas.

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Cole Lauterbach is a managing editor for The Center Square covering the western United States. For more than a decade, Cole has produced award-winning content on both radio and television.




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