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Morrison School report helps Mesa with future planning

June 19, 2008

Mesa has the largest percentage of high school graduates, is sixth in the percentage of households that are families, and has a population with a median age of 32.4 years compared to other Valley cities. These along with other statistics were presented by the Morrison School of Management and Agribusiness during the Mesa Chamber of Commerce 2008 Economic Forecast meeting June 11.

The report was done to help understand how Mesa compares to other Valley communities in terms of demographic and economic composition and trends.

“The Chamber felt that it would be useful base data for city, business, and community leaders, as they plan for the future development of the community,” said Paul Patterson, dean of the Morrison School.

The study compared Mesa with eight peer cities in metro Phoenix, including Avondale, Chandler, Gilbert, Glendale, Peoria, Phoenix, Tempe and Scottsdale. Analysis was done using data from several federal, state, county and Morrison School studies and reports collected in 2000 and 2006, as well as projections for 2010 and 2030.

The report, completed by faculty and staff, analyzed types of households, mobility, population, education, employment, income, and home sales and affordability.

Employment findings in 2006 show that the leading occupations were in educational services, health care and social assistance, with construction and retail following close behind; the size of the workforce is the second largest in the Valley; and the median income falls in the bottom third compared to peer cities.

When it comes to education, Mesa has some of the best public and private higher education institutions, such as Arizona State University’s Polytechnic campus, home to the Morrison School; Mesa Community College, one of the largest community colleges in the country; and private institutions such as the University of Phoenix and A.T. Still University, operating in it. Yet Mesa scores lower than peer cities for residents with bachelor’s and graduate degrees.

“The quality of Mesa's public schools is reflected in the relatively large number of residents who have completed high school,” said Patterson, “however, Mesa lags behind other East Valley communities in terms of the percentage of its residents that have completed college or other advanced degrees. This limits income levels in this community. For employment, the community is also reliant on construction and retail, which are strongly affected by cyclical economic conditions.”

In a May 2007 report, Maricopa Association of Governments projected Mesa’s employment for 2030, and has retail as the number one employer with significant increases in office and industrial based jobs as well. It also projected that between 2005 and 2030, Mesa will experience a population growth of 17 percent.

“Hopefully, the picture of the community provided by this report will help in making strategic decisions on how to attract new businesses and residents in ways that will enhance the community,” Patterson said.

The study was done as a service to the Mesa Chamber of Commerce. For the full report, visit

Chris Lambrakis,
(480) 727-1173
Public Affairs at ASU Polytechnic campus