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Valley residents can expect lots of new neighbors in the years ahead. What will growth be like where you live?

The Company We Keep
Where growth is happening in Maricopa, Pinal counties

Valley residents can expect lots of new neighbors in the years ahead. What will growth be like where you live?

New population and employment projections show that growth will continue to play a major role in our region, but there are changes to where and when that growth will occur. 

The Maricopa Association of Governments (MAG) is responsible for preparing population estimates and other socioeconomic projections for the region. New projections were developed for the years 2020, 2030, 2040, 2050, and 2055. MAG worked with its member agencies—cities, towns, Native nations, Maricopa County, and Pinal County—to ensure accuracy. The projections for member agencies within Pinal County were developed in conjunction with Central Arizona Governments. 

Population Share 2055The projections show that Maricopa County’s population as a whole will increase from just over 4.4 million in 2020 to more than 6.4 million in 2055. Total employment will increase from about 2.2 million jobs in 2020 to nearly 3.5 million jobs in 2055. 

In Pinal County, the projections show population more than doubling, going from 466,000 in 2020 to almost 1.2 million by 2055. Employment in Pinal County is projected to more than quadruple, increasing from 73,000 in 2020 to more than 307,000 in 2055.

One dramatic example of the region’s continued growth may be found in the number of municipal planning areas (MPAs) with populations greater than 250,000. In 2000, only Phoenix and Mesa’s MPAs exceeded a quarter million, and by 2010, only Glendale had joined that club. But by 2055, ten MAG member agencies will be on the quarter-million-or-more list: Phoenix, Mesa, Buckeye, Surprise, Glendale, Peoria, Chandler, Scottsdale, Gilbert, and Tempe, with Goodyear just under that mark at almost 224,000.

The numbers also indicate that regional growth will shift in the future. 

The West Valley realizes the biggest percentage gains in both population and employment. In 2018, the West Valley had about 21 percent of the region’s population, but that number jumps to 28.6 percent by 2055. The percentage changes for employment are just as dramatic. In 2018, the West Valley’s share of total regional employment was only 15.6 percent, but increases to 20.6 percent by 2055. 

In terms of raw numbers, Phoenix continues to grow, never losing its top ranking for either population or employment growth, but it does see some of its percentage of the County’s population and employment shaved off in the next 35 years. In 2018, the Central Valley (almost entirely made up of Phoenix) represented more than 35 percent of Maricopa County’s population. That number falls to 29 percent in 2055. On the employment side, the Central Valley has held 41 percent of the Valley’s employment, but by 2055, that percentage drops to 36 percent, slightly more than the East Valley.

Similar to Phoenix, the East Valley has seen a slowing of population growth. In 2018, the East Valley had 34 percent of the region’s population. By 2058, that percentage falls to under 28 percent. The East Valley maintains its large employer base, however. In 2018, the East Valley had 40 percent of employment in the region, and by 2055 is projected to have 35.9 percent, slightly less than Phoenix. 

Pinal County as a whole saw dramatic gains in both population and employment. In 2018, the county had only 9.5 percent of the region’s population, but by 2055, it is projected to have 14.6 percent.  Pinal County had 3.2 percent of the region’s jobs in 2018, and by 2055 is projected to have more than a 7 percent share.

The previous set of projections was completed in 2016. The current projections show a slightly lower expected birth rate overall, thus reducing the projected population by about 9 percent as compared to the 2016 projections. The projected growth patterns are largely the same as they were in 2016, with growth to occur more in the central core than in the suburbs.

On June 26, 2019, the MAG Regional Council adopted the final set of 2019 MAG Socioeconomic Projections of Population and Employment. They are available to the public on the MAG website at

Published July 29, 2019

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The Maricopa Association of Governments (MAG) is a Council of Governments (COG) that serves as the regional planning agency for the metropolitan Phoenix area.

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