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Tucson is one of the US’s fastest growing cities. The city has grown by more than 5% since 2015, pushing its population close to 1 million. The region usually posts a very low unemployment rate and boasts a median household income of $44,000. Along with nearby Phoenix, Tucson GDP tops $235 billion. While Tucson has been known in the past as a retirement community, the city’s economy has diversified in recent years, with many growing industries.
Tucson is fast becoming one of the country’s most innovative business centers. Growth industries in the city include aerospace and defense, optics, and renewable energy.
Tucson is currently ranked as one of the top 5 areas in the US for aerospace. Aerospace companies with operations in Tucson include Bombardier, Heico, Lockheed Martin, L3 Harris Technologies, and Aerovation. The Davis-Monthan Air Force Base also employs many people in the local economy.
The University of Arizona’s Steward Observatory has also helped create a thriving optics industry in the city. Optics Valley, a nickname for the high concentration of optics companies, is world-renowned for its research. Optic organizations include Edmund Optics, Composite Mirror Applications, Bruker, Lasertel, NP Photonics, and Raytheon.
Tourism and real estate also make up a big part of Tucson’s economy. The city’s mild winters and warm climates are attractive to ‘Snowbirds’ – seniors from northern states who winter in the American South. These vacationers and winters residents prop up a lot of the services offered in the city.
Tucson is ideal for people who love warm weather. Freezing temperatures are almost non-existent and the dry heat makes the hotter temperatures bearable.
Tucson’s revitalized downtown is studded with cultural landmarks like the Museum of Contemporary Art, Tucson Museum of Art, LoveSmack Studios, and the Center for Creative Photography. Downtown holds a diverse number of restaurants, from craft cocktail bars to comfort food eateries. There are also dozens of festivals that run year-round, like the Tucson Fringe Festival, Tucson Gem and Mineral Show, and the Agave Heritage Festival.
Tucson is also known as a cyclist’s mecca. The city earns many accolades for its cycling infrastructure. El Tour Tucson is the longest-running and largest bike race in Arizona. And if you’re a hiker, the Santa Catalina mountain range and Saguaro National Park are beautiful destinations. Take in the unique desert flora on crisp evening walks through the Tucson Botanical Gardens or Tohono Chul Park.
Tucson is also very affordable. At $135,000, median home prices are lower than the national average. Things like groceries, gas, and more are also cheaper than other big cities.
By far the largest employer in the city is the University of Arizona, the state’s leading public university. If you’re interested in defense, get a job at Raytheon, Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, or the US Border Patrol. Join one of the city’s fascinating healthcare companies like Carondelet Health Network, the University of Arizona Health Network, or TMC Healthcare. Or get your start in mining at Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold Inc.