Census Bureau estimates in 2008 indicated that the Tucson metropolitan area had become the nation's 52nd with more than 1,000,000 population. A Bureau of the Census estimate released earlier this week placed the population in 2010 at 1,027,000.
However, the 2010 census count showed the Tucson metropolitan area to have only 980,000 residents, a 16.1 percent increase from the 844,000 population in 2010. The historical core municipality of Tucson gained 6.9 percent from 487,000 to 520,000. This is the slowest growth rate since the 1850-1860 census period. The city accounted for 24 percent of the metropolitan area growth.
The suburbs grew at a rate of 29.1 percent and accounted for 76 percent of the population growth over the period.
This is the second time in history and the second time in five years that the nation has "lost" a metropolitan area with more than 1,000,000 population. The first instance was New Orleans, which was ravaged by Hurricane Katrina and dropped below 1,000,000 in 2006 and then recovered to above that figure in 2007. At the current growth rate, it appears likely that Tucson will be restored to major metropolitan area status by 2012.