Census shows Phoenix population numbers inflated

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PHOENIX - The city of Phoenix was long among the fastest growing cities in the nation, but the past three years changed that and thus will change how much federal and state money the city receives.

The city of Phoenix is now the sixth largest city, surpassed by Philadelphia. After nearly four years of thinking it was fifth, figures released by the U.S Census Bureau show the 2006 estimate was overstated.

The 2010 census count found Phoenix's population grew from 1.3 million in 2000 to 1.4 million in 2010, not the 1.5 million estimated in 2006.

Tom Rex, who studies Phoenix's economy and population for the W.P. Carey School of Business at ASU, blamed employer sanctions and the recession.

"We lost 300,000 jobs in the state," he said.

Rex said that caused some people to leave, especially Hispanics. 

As a result city officials expect to lose $14 million in state income taxes and shared revenue. 

Federal aid is also based on population.

Rex still believes the state's economy will bounce back and the population will spike. 

"It's a moot question if Phoenix is larger than Philadelphia because Phoenix will be larger in several years," he said.

Realtor Terry Smith believes the baby boomers will help boost the Phoenix population.

"Every 17 seconds a baby boomer turns 50," he said.

Smith said the boomers love the Phoenix weather. He calls it a "mass migration from the rust belt to the sun belt." 

Rex said it's true the retirees will help grow our population, the question is will they be snow birds or permanent residents.