YOUNG MINORITIES LEAD POPULATION SHIFT
August 9, 2007
- AFFORDABLE HOMES, JOBS DRIVE GROWTH IN ARIZ. COUNTIES
Author: Yvonne Wingett and Ryan Konig, The Arizona Republic Estimated printed
Two years ago, when Marina Leon was house hunting around LA, she couldn't find
anything under $600,000.
She was desperate to stay in the Santa Barbara area near her family, but it just
wasn't an option on her hair stylist salary. So she and her boyfriend boxed up
their belongings. And headed for Surprise.
Not necessarily Santa Barbara but compared with those prices, she's living
large. In a five-bedroom, with just as many baths, a balcony. And a pool.
"I'm living better here than I ever could there," said Leon, 25. "We thought,
'We're young, let's just give it a shot.' I love it."
It's newcomers like Leon that drove Maricopa County's growth and diversification
between July 1, 2005, and July 1, 2006.
The county grew by 129,642 people during that time, the U.S. Census Bureau
estimated in a county-by-county breakdown. Of those, 71,010, or 55 percent, were
Latino. Anglos followed, with 35,503 newcomers, making up about 27 percent of
the growth. African-Americans grew by 9,017, then Asians, at 8,759, each posting
7 percent gains.
Maricopa County's Hispanic growth reflects demographic trends in other areas,
such as counties near Atlanta and Chicago, where Latino populations are also
soaring. Anglos are now the minority in nearly one in 10 U.S.
In Maricopa and Pinal counties, young people are leading the shift toward
minorities becoming the majority. Latinos, Blacks, Asians and Native Americans
younger than 15 already outnumber non-minorities, according to a major study
released last year by the Brookings Institution, which analyzed census
population estimates in urban areas across the U.S.
A Republic analysis of the census figures released today shows that Maricopa
County led all U.S. counties for overall population increase between July
2005 and July 2006, as well as for increases of Hispanics, Anglos, Native
Americans and people of more than one race.
A year or so ago, Jose Samuel Leyvas moved to south Phoenix, where he grew up.
After six years of living in Washington, D.C., and working as an exec at a
powerful trade association, he handed in a letter of resignation. It was time to
move home: His mom had been diagnosed with cancer in 2005, congestion in the
city was bad and getting worse, along with his sky-high rent.
"Phoenix was a land of opportunity, growing so fast that you could really
reinvent yourself, and your career, and a new life," said Leyvas, 34, who
quickly found a new job, and then bought a home in south Phoenix with his
girlfriend, Vanessa Barrera.
"My roots are deep here in Phoenix. I wanted to be close to my mom to take care
of her. I'm here to stay."
So is Latino growth in Maricopa County, demographers say. It will continue to be
driven by high Hispanic birthrates, job creation, immigration and affordable
home prices compared with other metro areas job creations.
The growth will likely present greater challenges, they said, in everything from
language to culture, and health care to education.
"Places that are growing (in Hispanics) have strain associated with them,"
said Jeffrey Passel, a demographer with the Pew Hispanic Center.
"Immigrants have posed some challenges, in part, because many of them are
illegal. You have a lot of kids that don't speak English as first language or
don't speak it very well. But I think we'll have a new definition of what
majority means fairly soon."
Maricopa County was one of two counties in the U.S. that grew by more than
100,000 people from July 1, 2005, to July 1, 2006. Harris County in Texas
followed, with 123,363 people, then Riverside County in Calif., which added
Rogelio De La Cruz discovered Maricopa County two years ago. The Mexican
immigrant crossed into Arizona through Agua Prieta, and is now living, without
legal papers, in a north Phoenix apartment with brothers and friends.
He came here for a job, he said, and to go to high school and maybe one day
become a police officer. For now, the 18-year-old finds temporary landscaping
work, earning about $100 a day, triple the amount he made in a week in his
hometown of Campeche, in southeast Mexico.
"I plan on staying," he said. "I want to go to school. I like the people, the
Go to datacentral.azcentral.com for a searchable database of U.S. Census
Bureau population estimates, by race and ethnicity, for the nation's
Hispanics lead growth in county
The U.S. Census Bureau estimates that Maricopa County grew by
129,642 people from July 1, 2005, to July 1, 2006. Hispanics
accounted for 55 percent of that growth.
Maricopa County '05 to '06
Hispanics.......... 1st...71,010......... 55
Anglos............. 1st.. 35,503......... 27
African-Americans.. 9th... 9,017.......... 7
Asians............. 7th... 8,759.......... 7
Native Americans... 1st... 2,168.......... 2
Multiracial people. 1st... 2,820.......... 2
Pacific Islanders.. 3rd..... 365.......... 0
Total ..............1st. 129,642
U.S. Census Bureau
Chart by RYAN KONIG, ANDREW LONG/THE ARIZONA REPUBLIC
Reach the reporter at (602) 444-4712 or firstname.lastname@example.org.