State demographer releases population projections

Gaming continues to be Nevada’s biggest driver for employment statewide; education and healthcare offer the most room for growth

10/16/2013 - By: Nicole Shearer
Population projections for the state are anticipated to grow slightly above the projected national rate.

The Nevada State Demographer's Office at the University of Nevada, Reno has released its most recent population projections for Nevada and its individual counties, projecting through 2032.

"As our state recovers, people should bear in mind that Nevada was hit by three economic factors in the last decade: the housing bubble, the spike in fuel prices, and the financial crisis. Even so we grew by 35 percent from 2000 to 2010," Jeff Hardcastle, state demographer, said. "Currently, we are projecting our state will continue to grow decade to decade at a rate slightly above the projected national rate. From 2010 to 2020 Nevada will grow at 9.6 percent compared to a national forecast of 8.1 percent for example."  

Given Nevada's current levels of employment and the potential for growth, the 2013 projections are for a state-wide increase of 529,322 people over the next 20 years. Broken out by region, Clark County could experience an increase of 377,037 people; Washoe County an increase of 120,070 people; and other northwest counties (Carson City, Churchill, Douglas, Storey and Lyon Counties) could see population increase of 26,808. The counties along Interstate 80 (Elko, Eureka, Humboldt, Lander and Pershing Counties) could see an increase of 1,567 people and the balance of the state (Esmeralda, Lincoln, Mineral, Nye and White Pine Counties) could see an increase of 3,840 people.

Population projections are created using the Regional Economics Model, Inc. (REMI). The model allows Hardcastle to consider the historic relationship between the Nevada economy and demographic composition of the state and how that relates to national changes as well as changes in counties throughout the state. He reviews economic activity across the state and uses additional forecasting models like Moody's Economy.com to assist in preparing these projections.

"In looking at Nevada compared to the rest of the country and surrounding states, Nevada lags behind in job growth," Hardcastle said. "Since the bottom of employment for Nevada (in Sept. 2010), we have regained 27.9 percent of the jobs that had been lost. Nationally, that compares to 75 percent and 53.4 percent in California for jobs regained as of June."

After doing a location quotient analysis, Hardcastle said gaming continues to be the biggest driver for employment in Nevada. A location quotient analysis compares how competitive a region is to other areas and how much demand for goods and services are met locally.

"Educational services and health care have the most room to grow to meet our state-wide needs," Hardcastle said. "There are good indications that there is more demand for these services compared to their availability in Nevada." 

When trying to project population estimates for the state, Hardcastle says the following questions need to be considered:

  • How soon will employment recover for the country as a whole, and Nevada in particular?
  • What kind of jobs will make up any employment recovery, and what skills will they require?
  • How mobile is labor? How willing are people to relocate and do they have the resources to do so?
  • What economic, social and physical infrastructure is needed to support growth in Nevada?
  • What capacity is there to fund our infrastructure and how willing are we as a state to invest in our future?


These population projections are used in preparing the state's budget and for other planning purposes. A draft of the projections was sent to local governments and other interested parties for comment. They, like those prepared by the U.S. Census Bureau, are in the public domain. The complete projections can be viewed at http://nvdemography.org/data-and-publications/projections.

The State Demographer's Office is part of the Nevada Small Business Development Center at the University of Nevada, Reno College of Business, and is funded by the Nevada Department of Taxation.


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