Population Profile

How are we doing?

Population Growth Rate (2016)

The population in the Tucson Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) increased by 0.4% in 2016, bringing the total population to 1,013,103 residents. This growth rate ranked Tucson last out of 12 western MSAs. The Austin MSA posted the fastest growth rate at 2.9%. 20-44 year olds made up the largest share of the population in Tucson (32.6%), the state of Arizona (32.8%), and the Nation (33.4%). The 65-plus age group formed the smallest share of the population, with 18.4% in Tucson, 16.4% in Arizona, and 14.9% in the U.S. By ethnicity, Tucson had a larger share of Hispanic residents than Arizona or the U.S. and conversely, a lower percentage of white alone residents comprising the total population.

Why is it important?

Population growth is an important measure of community growth, reflecting both net migration and natural increase (births minus deaths). Higher population growth rates can be due to employment growth, the quality of local services, schools, and leisure opportunities. Additionally, new growth leads to increased demand for housing, goods, services, and infrastructure—each of which spur regional economic development. A carefully monitored statistic, population levels and growth rates are the basis for a myriad of public decisions related to infrastructure and community planning. For example, federal apportionments for highways are largely based on metropolitan population levels and expected growth within urbanized areas.

How do we compare?

Of the four groups measured (0-19; 20-44; 45-64; 65 years plus), the 20-44 year age bracket posted the largest population share in the Tucson MSA (32.6%), Arizona (32.8%) and the U.S. (33.4%) in 2015. The 65-years plus age bracket posted the smallest share in all three, with slightly higher rates in Tucson and Arizona, reflecting the large number of retirees in the state. Young people (ages 0-19) made up the third largest share of the population in Tucson and the state, comprising 24.7% of the population in Tucson and 26.5% in Arizona.

The Tucson MSA had a larger percentage of Hispanic or Latino residents (35.7%) than did the state (30.3%) or the U.S. (17.1%). Conversely, the Tucson MSA had a slightly lower percentage of those identifying as White alone (53.7%) than Arizona (56.5%) or the nation (62.3%).

What are the key trends?

The Tucson MSA and state of Arizona have seen more volatility in their population growth rates than the U.S. Nationally, the rate has remained near 1.0%, while rates in Tucson and Arizona have been as high as 2.8% (Tucson) and 3.5% (Arizona) prior to the Great Recession, and as low as -0.3% (Tucson) and 0.2% (Arizona) during the Great Recession. Following 2010, rates increased steadily in Tucson with a slight dip during 2015.

How is it measured?

Population growth rates data are computed from population levels reported by the Arizona Department of Administration and U.S. Census Bureau Annual Estimates of the Resident Population. This represents an annual supplement to the decennial census (count) of the resident population. Population profile information is gathered from the U.S. Census Bureau American Community Survey (ACS) five-year estimates.