Southern Arizona Communities Snapshot 2022

Beatriz Del Campo-Carmona, Research Economist

Pinpoint Shadow  Snapshot Report for Southern Arizona Cities, Towns, and Census-Designated Places

The Southern Arizona communities snapshot provides an overview of how the 41 largest cities, towns, and census-designated places (CDP) within Cochise, Pima, Pinal, Greenlee, Graham, Santa Cruz, and Yuma counties are performing. Due to the importance of mining in Greenlee County, we also include three nearby communities in New Mexico. Hereafter, when discussing multiple cities, towns, or census-designated places, the general term communities will be used. Select measures from MAP’s core indicators were chosen to illustrate the most recent year of data available for the Southern Arizona communities. Special features providing greater detail on select indicators will be published on the MAP Dashboard throughout the year. For example, upcoming special features may include the poverty rate explored by race, family type, and age. You can find these special features in the MAP library under the Southern Arizona Communities category

In 2022, the city of Tucson was the largest Southern Arizona community with a population of 541,033, reflecting a population growth of 11.2% since the year 2000 (see Figure 5). The next four Southern Arizona communities were significantly smaller with populations between 55,000 and 97,000 residents. These communities include the city of Yuma (96,314), census-designated place Casas Adobes (69,917), and the cities of Maricopa (59,605) and Casa Grande (55,186). The town of Miami had the smallest population with 1,353 residents, followed by the Morenci CDP with 1,467 residents. Median age varied from place to place, with the town of Thatcher posting the lowest median age at 27.7 years and the Green Valley CDP posting the highest at 73.5 years. Green Valley is unique in the sense that it is a retirement community with a median age that is 35.1 years higher than the median age for the state of Arizona. Table 1 displays the population and median age for each Southern Arizona community.

Table 1: Southern Arizona Communities Population and Median Age (2022)

How are we doing?

In 2022, the poverty rate for the U.S. was 12.5%. There were 16 Southern Arizona communities that had poverty rates below the U.S. rate. The lowest rates were posted by the census-designated places Tanque Verde (2.4%), and Corona de Tucson (2.6%). The city of South Tucson had the highest poverty rate of the 41 communities in Southern Arizona at 35.5%. Figure 1 illustrates these poverty rates as well as those for the other communities.

Figure 1. Southern Arizona Communities Poverty Rate (2022)

The Tanque Verde CDP had the highest median household income at $120,887 in 2022, followed closely by the Vail CDP at $120,179. Just as the city of South Tucson had the highest poverty rate of the 41 communities, it also posted the lowest median household income at $34,014. The city of Nogales followed with $36,682. Figure 2 highlights median household income by place.

Despite posting a low poverty rate in 2022, the Green Valley CDP had a low median household income at $57,785 when compared to the state and the nation. There is often a direct correlation between median household income and the poverty rate, as median household income increases the poverty rate decreases. Green Valley is unique to many of the other communities in Southern Arizona as it has a low median household income and poverty rate. The median age of the community may explain the low levels of poverty coupled with a median household income that is below the average. Retirement and social security play a role in Green Valley’s low median income as well. A feature on Income and Earnings takes a closer look at this concept and at median household income in other Southern Arizona communities.

Figure 2. Southern Arizona Communities Median Household Income (2022)

An educated workforce is a key component for strong economic growth. Local areas with a high concentration of educated workers tend to generate faster long-run income, population, and job growth. Figure 3 explores each Southern Arizona community’s four-year college attainment rate. During 2022, the Catalina Foothills CDP had the highest percentage of those who were 25 years and older with a bachelor’s degree or better at 70.4%. The Tanque Verde CDP was second at 57.0%, 13.4 percentage points behind Catalina Foothills, but it surpassed the state of Arizona by 25.2 percentage points, as the state's four-year college attainment rate stood at 31.8%. The city of South Tucson posted the lowest percentage of those with a bachelor’s degree or better that were 25 years and older at 8.8%.

Figure 3. Southern Arizona Communities Four-Year College Attainment Rate (2022)

Enrollment in a quality early education program is often thought of as a precursor to later success in school. Early education enrollment for the U.S. in 2022 was 45.6%, significantly higher than the state of Arizona’s figure of 35.2%. Of the 41 communities in Southern Arizona where early education data is available, 13 communities had enrollment rates higher than the state of Arizona’s rate, the highest of which was the Vail CDP with 64.4%. The Rio Rico CDP had the lowest percentage of three-to-four-year-olds enrolled in early education at 16.4%. There is limited data available for smaller communities, due to large margins of error within the data. To view the data available, click on the geography names. Early education enrollment for each Southern Arizona community is illustrated in Figure 4.

Figure 4. Southern Arizona Communities Early Education Enrollment (2022)


What are the key trends?

The percent change in population between 2000 and 2022 for the 41 Southern Arizona communities is provided in Figure 5. There were 20 Southern Arizona communities out of the 41 that posted population growth rates surpassing the U.S. rate of 17.7% between 2000 and 2022. The city of Maricopa posted a remarkable increase in population at 5,631.3%, by far the fastest increase in population of any of the Southern Arizona communities. The Corona de Tucson CDP and the city of Sahuarita also posted very high population growth rates with 975.3% and 956.1% respectively. Twelve communities decreased in total population between 2000 and 2022. The Morenci CDP posted the largest loss in population at 21.9%, followed by the Ajo CDP at 21.1%. Among New Mexico geographies, only Hurley saw population increases. The remaining communities with population losses were the cities of Bisbee, South Tucson, Willcox, Nogales, and Globe, and the census-designated places the Catalina Foothills, Catalina, and Tanque Verde. Decreases in population for several of the places explored here were due to decreases in natural resources & mining employment. Many Southern Arizona communities, as well as the state of Arizona, posted a substantially larger increase in population over this 22-year period than did the U.S.

Figure 5. Southern Arizona Communities Population Growth Rate (2000 - 2022)

How is it measured?

All data provided for the Southern Arizona communities, the state of Arizona, and the U.S. come from the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey (ACS). The ACS is a nationwide rolling-sample survey that produces one and five-year estimates on demographic, social, housing, and economic measures. Data is only available as five-year estimate for populations smaller than 20,000. In order to compare the Southern Arizona places with the state of Arizona and the U.S. all data provided in this analysis utilized five-year estimates. Note that the ACS five-year estimates are produced over a five-year time period and can only be compared to non-overlapping five-year estimates (for example: 2005-2009 and 2010-2014).