The latest Census data for state population was released this week, going up to July 1. Arizona remains the third most populous state in the West — an astounding fact for those of us who grew up in a small, frontier state — and that is not good news for boosters that expected it to reach No. 2 behind California.
Worse for the growth machine, the annual increase was only 1.15 percent. Growth from 2010 through July 2013 was somewhat better, a cumulative 3.4 percent.
But this is not the population increases upon which the business plans of so much of Arizona businesses are predicated. In the 1990s, the state grew by 40 percent. In the 2000s, shattered by the housing depression, population still grew by 24.6 percent. The annual growth of 2012-2013 will not get the state anywhere near that number in 2020.
In the decade of the Great Depression, Arizona's population increased by only 14.6 percent. The lesser depression of today may promise more of the same. The nation grew only 0.71 percent in the most recent year, the slowest growth since the Depression.
Even Texas, rich in energy, corporate centers, major universities, federal dollars and a good relationship with Mexico grew by 1.5 percent.