Coconino County in Arizona is the second-largest county in the continental United States. If it were a U.S. state, it would rank between West Virginia (#41) and Maryland (#42) in terms of total area.
Coconino contains a number of nationally protected places, including part of the Grand Canyon, but relatively few residents. Last year, it welcomed just 1,314 babies — less than 2% of all the babies born in Arizona.
What were the most popular names among these Coconino babies? Juniper and Liam.
Here are the county’s top 5 girl names and top 5+ boy names of 2022:
Asher, Kai, Logan, Mason, and Theodore (5-way tie)
I’m pleasantly surprised that Juniper happened to be the #1 girl name in the region. (No doubt the names at the top of these rankings were only separated by a baby or two, though.)
I wonder how many of the parents who opted for Juniper were inspired by the Utah Juniper, which is a small, wind-twisted tree native to the Southwest. The NPS describes junipers as having “a mystical quality. Each tree is like a fine work of art that one might find in a museum.”
Nationally, the name Juniper has been bounding up the charts over the last few years. In 2021, it was the 138th most popular girl name in the country, but a top-50 name in the following six states:
Wyoming (where Juniper ranked 14th)
Speaking of states…
The Arizona Department of Health Services reports that these were top baby names state-wide in 2022:
The baby name Esty (a diminutive of Esther) is primarily used in the state of New York, thanks to the large Jewish community in New York City.
But the name was also featured in the Emmy-winning Netflix series Unorthodox a couple of years ago. So, last year, I checked the Esty data (both the national data and the New York data) to see if the show had influenced the name’s usage.
It may have — Esty did indeed see its highest-ever usage both nationally and in New York in 2020. Even more intriguingly, though, I noticed what seemed to be gaps in the recent NY data. Specifically, New York had no data on the name Esty for the years 2016, 2018, and 2019.
Check it out:
Esty usage in the U.S.
Esty usage in New York
I mean, It’s possible that the New York usage of Esty simply dropped below the 5-baby minimum during those particular years. As per the SSA:
To safeguard privacy, we exclude from our tabulated lists of names those that would indicate, or would allow the ability to determine, names with fewer than 5 occurrences in any geographic area.
If that were the case, though, you’d expect to see corresponding dips in the national usage. And we don’t see that here.
It seems more likely to me that some of the New York data is simply…missing.
So the next question is: Are there gaps in the NY data for other names as well?