Newsroom | Valley Growth Continues During Pandemic

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In about the time it takes you to hit the refrigerator during a commercial break, you’ve gained a Valley neighbor.

Data find Californians are most likely to move to Valley


In about the time it takes you to hit the refrigerator during a commercial break, you’ve gained a Valley neighbor.

Someone moves to the Phoenix metro area about every two minutes. They’re moving to places all across the region. And one out of every four households moving to the region is coming from California. That is according to new analysis by the Maricopa Association of Governments (MAG), based on data from the U.S. Census Bureau and Data Axle USA.

MAG acquired data from Data Axle showing information on moves to and from the Phoenix-Mesa-Chandler metropolitan statistical area (MSA), which is made up of Maricopa County and Pinal County. The data examine moves between June 2019 and December 2020. The data reveal that in each month of that 18-month period, thousands more people moved to the area than moved away. The highest number of moves to the Valley came in August 2019, with nearly 16,000 people moving to the MSA and only 8,500 moving away.

Not even the COVID-19 pandemic could do much more than slow the number of people moving to the region. March 2020, the very start of the pandemic, saw the fewest moves to the region at just over 8,200, with nearly 3,000 moving away. However, the very next month had one of the highest total moves to the region at over 14,400 versus only 4,500 moving away.

Over the summer of 2020, moves to the region were lower than a year earlier, but still far more people moved to the region than moved away, while the fourth quarter of 2020 actually saw an increase in moves to the region compared to a year earlier, and a decrease in those moving away from the region compared in the same time period.

Household Moves to/from the MAG MSA by Month

Click photo to enlarge

Household moves to/from MAG Region

“When we look at where these people moving to the region are locating, we see that the entire region is seeing new residents, with a few hotspots located in Downtown Phoenix, Central Phoenix and Old Town Scottsdale,” said Jesse Ayers, MAG socioeconomic modeling program manager who analyzed the data. “Phoenix saw the largest number of new residents with over 55,000, or 25 percent of movers,” he said. Scottsdale and Mesa each saw over 22,000 households move within their borders. Chandler, Gilbert, Glendale, Surprise, and Peoria each saw more than 9,000 households calling their cities home.

People moved to the region from pretty much every major metro area around the United States. Most commonly it was Californians moving east to the Phoenix area, with nearly 24,000 trading the Golden State for the Grand Canyon State. Texas, Illinois, Washington, Colorado, Florida, New York, and Michigan rounded out the top states sending movers to Arizona. Among people moving to the metro area from within Arizona, over 3,500 movers drove north from Pima County, while Yavapai County and Coconino County also sent a substantial number of new residents to the Phoenix metro area.

Where Are People Moving From? (Migration into the Region)

Where are people moving from?

One other interesting point is with regard to how the region has been growing. Traditionally, an examination of growth includes both the number of people moving to and from a region, as well as the number of births and deaths in that region. For years, the in-migration and births have outpaced the out-migration and deaths in the Phoenix MSA. However, in 2020, due primarily to the COVID-19 pandemic, the number of deaths in the region was higher than normal. In addition, the rate of natural growth (births minus deaths) was essentially flat, meaning the same number of people in the region died as the number of babies born. As a result, MAG data indicate that the region continued to grow, but all of that growth came from people moving to the region. We should get a better look at the demographics of the region when the Census 2020 results are released by the end of September.

For more information, please visit MAG's Community Profiles webpage.

Published April 19, 2021