Phoenix, Arizona, the sixth largest city in the country and second largest of the study sites, recently experienced a dramatic increase in population. With roughly 2.7 million people living in the metropolitan area, Maricopa County is one of the fastest growing regions in the nation. The sunny climate and steady economic growth has contributed to the influx of people moving to the area. Compared to the other urban study sites, Phoenix has one of the lowest proportion of families that are female headed (11.8 percent) and the lowest percentage of families who live in poverty (10.5 percent).
Located within a right to work state, the city of Phoenix is able to attract major businesses to the area such as Motorola, Honeywell, and Allied Signal. In addition, companies such as American Express, Bank of America, and Charles Schwab among others have built their regional and national headquarters within the area. The presence of these major corporations creates ripe employment opportunities for the citizens of Phoenix. The region's low unemployment rate (2.9 percent) and relatively small percentage of families receiving cash assistance is some indication of the strong economic base.