A closer look at the census numbers . . .

2011-03-14T19:08:00Z 2011-03-15T15:01:40Z A closer look at the census numbers . . .Tony Davis Arizona Daily Star
March 14, 2011 7:08 pm  • 

. . . show that Tucson grew at its slowest pace in more than a half-century, even as Pima County continued to grow rapidly.

On Saturday, the Star reported that new census figures showed that Tucson's share of Pima County's population has gradually shrunk over the years -- outgunned by suburban sprawl. In 1980, Tucson had about 62 percent of the population. By 2010 the city was down to 53 percent.

Drilling down into more detailed numbers shows the city's declining share  in starker terms.

From 2000 to 2010, 24.4 percent of all new county residents chose to move to or were born in the city of Tucson. That is the lowest percentage since the 1940-50, when the post World War II boom ushered in the first wave of suburban expansion across the United States. In the 1990s, by contrast, 45.7 percent of new county residents moved to or were born in Tucson. In the 1980s, the figure was 55.2 percent and in the 1970s, the figure was 37.6 percent.

Looking at the raw census numbers, Tucson gained 33,417 people from 2000 to 2010. That was also its lowest total of new residents since the 1940s, when only 9,702 people joined Tucson's population.

By contrast, Pima County gained a total of 136,515 new residents in the 2000s. That was its third highest total since 1920 -- more than in any decade except the boom years of the 1990s and '80s.

In other words, while Pima County still doesn't have a million people, its growth during the '00s was still, by historical standards, fairly impressive -- albeit at a slower rate than in the past.

One more lens through which to view the numbers is that Pima County drew about 40,000 fewer new residents during the '00s than during the 1990s. The city's decline in newcomers of about 47,000 accounted for all of the countywide decline, and then some.

If it's any consolation for Tucson, consider what happened in the 2010 census to St. Louis, home of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, like the Star owned by Lee Enterprises.

St. Louis' population dropped 8.3 percent in the 2000s to 319,294, its lowest level since just after the Civil War, the Post-Dispatch reported last month. St. Louis County's population shrank by 1.71 percent to about 998,000, a little more than Pima County's 980,000 people.

Neighboring St. Charles County's population rose nearly 27 pecent, and six other suburban counties near St. Louis also saw population gains.

The city's African-American newspaper, the St. Louis American, called the results "devastatingly bad news."

The Post-Dispatch headline the day after these census figures were released described the city as "hollowing out."

 

 

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About this blog

Star reporter Tony Davis covers topics in this blog that you have read under his byline for more than 30 years in the Southwest: water, growth, sprawl, pollution, climate change, endangered species, mining, grazing and traffic.

To reach Tony call 806-7746 (office) or 349-0350 (cell) or write him at tdavis@tucson.com.

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