When looking at the 25 largest cities in Maricopa County, the City of Phoenix has more than three times as many residents as the next largest city in Maricopa County.

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The U.S. population was 331.1 million, according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey five-year estimate for 2018-2022. Arizona’s population was 7.2 million, accounting for 2.2% of the U.S. and ranking 14th among the fifty states and the District of Columbia.

The Phoenix Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) is composed of Maricopa and Pinal counties. With 4.9 million residents it was the 11th largest in the country. It accounted for 67.8% of the state’s total population.

Maricopa County was by far the larger of the two counties, with 4.4 million residents, compared to Pinal County with 433,000 residents. Maricopa County was the fourth largest county in the U.S.

The cities within Maricopa County varied significantly by population size and demographic characteristics. In this post, we will examine data on population, unemployment, employment shares by industry and occupation, educational attainment, family income, and home values across the 25 Maricopa County cities with the largest number of residents.

While this post examines large cities in Maricopa County only, interested readers can find a wealth of data and analysis on Southern Arizona cities (including Tucson) in the MAP Dashboard’s Southern Arizona Communities Reports.

Exhibit 1 shows the top 25 cities by population size. In this article, I use “city” to refer to cities, towns, and Census Designated Places. As the exhibit shows, the City of Phoenix had by far the most residents during the period, with 1.6 million residents. That was more than three times larger than the next-largest city (Mesa, with just over half a million residents). City size declines rapidly to 6,980 for Youngtown, the 25th largest.

Exhibit 1: Top 25 Cities in Maricopa County by Population, ACS 2018-2022

The City of Phoenix alone accounted for 36.3% of Maricopa County population during the period. In addition, the top five cities (Phoenix, Mesa, Chandler, Gilbert, and Glendale) accounted for 65.5% of county population and the top 10 accounted for 84.9%.

The county’s cities also differ by demographic characteristics. Exhibit 2 shows civilian unemployment rates for the top 25 largest cities. During the period, Apache Junction had the highest unemployment rate at 8.9%, while Wickenburg had the lowest at 1.0%. The City of Phoenix unemployment rate was 5.2%. Seven cities were above the Arizona rate of 5.4% and the U.S. rate of 5.3%.

Exhibit 2: Unemployment Rates for the Top 25 Cities in Maricopa County by Population, ACS 2018-2022, Percent

The occupational mix of Maricopa County cities was also quite different. For example, 71.5% of Paradise Valley residents reported working in management, business, science, and arts occupations.In contrast, 25.7% of Youngtown residents reported working in that occupational grouping. Overall, 13 cities reported employment shares above the national average and 15 cities were above the state rate. Residents working in this occupational category work in a wide range of industries.

Cities also reported different shares of residents working in the manufacturing industry. Chandler posted the largest share at 12.7%, followed by Gilbert at 10.8% (Exhibit 3). Those were the only two cities above the national average. Ten cities were above the state average. On the other end of the spectrum, Wickenburg had a manufacturing employment share of 2.4%. Residents working in the manufacturing industry may be in a wide range of occupations.

Exhibit 3: Share of Employed Residents Working in Manufacturing for the Top 25 Cities in Maricopa County by Population, ACS 2018-2022, Percent

Educational attainment is a key driver of long-run growth for nations, states, and metropolitan areas. These rates also tend to vary significantly across cities. Exhibit 4 shows four-year (or more) college attainment rates for Maricopa County cities. Paradise Valley reported the highest share at 73.6%, followed by Scottsdale at 61.3%. Tolleson reported the lowest share at 6.4%. In all, 11 cities were above the national average and 13 were above the state average.

Exhibit 4: Share of Residents Age 25+ With a Bachelors Degree or More for the Top 25 Cities in Maricopa County by Population, ACS 2018-2022, Percent

Exhibit 5 shows median family income, in constant 2022 dollars, for Maricopa County cities. In general, we would expect cities with high concentrations of highly educated residents to have relatively high family income. Prescott Valley, at $248,044, and Scottsdale, at $140,883, ranked highly, while Tolleson, at $48,100, ranked lower. Fourteen Maricopa County cities had income above the national average and 15 were above the state average.

Exhibit 5: Median Family Income for the Top 25 Cities in Maricopa County by Population, ACS 2018-2022, 2022 Dollars

Educational attainment and income tend to be correlated with home values. Exhibit 6 shows median home values for cities in Maricopa County. These range from above $2.0 million for Paradise Valley (which is top coded) to $174,100 for Apache Junction. Seventeen cities were above the Arizona average of $321,400 and 20 were above the U.S. at $281,900.

Exhibit 6: Median Home Value for the Top 25 Cities in Maricopa County by Population, ACS 2018-2022, Dollars, *Median home value is $2 million or more

Author: George W. Hammond, Ph.D., is the director and research professor at the Economic and Business Research Center (EBRC).