Census figures show growth in Nevada, Clark County populations

Populations in Nevada and Clark County showed growth between July 1, 2012 to July 1, 2013, according to information released by the U.S. Census Bureau Thursday.

Clark County had the most population growth in Nevada, adding 30,209 of the 35,782 new state residents. This made for a total number of 2.03 million residents in Clark County and 2.79 million in Nevada. Such growth is primarily due to Nevada’s economic recuperation and an increase in employment opportunities, said Stephen Brown, director of UNLV’s Center for Business and Economic Research.

The growth rates — 1.5 percent for Clark County and 1.3 percent for Nevada — indicate an improving economy.

Clark County also released numbers that show population growth. The numbers made public in February show an increase in population of 59,599 during the same time period covered by the U.S. Census Bureau data.

Clark County counts persons per household while the U.S. Census Bureau relies on phone surveys to gather data. But both methodologies indicate steady population growth. The growth contrasts with the outward migration Nevada experienced after the national economy faltered in 2008, leading to un­employment in key Nevada industries such as gaming, hospitality and construction.

“As Nevada recovers economically, we are seeing the vacancy rate in Clark County homes go down and more people coming back to the community,” said Jon Wardlaw, planning manager for Clark County Comprehensive Planning. “The data indicate an economic upturn because people are moving to Clark County to find jobs and better employment.”

The increase in population and Nevada’s more diverse employment opportunities resulted in the state having job growth that surpassed the national average from December 2012 to December 2013, according to data recently published by the Center for Business and Economic Research.

“Job growth in Nevada was twice the national average for that time period,” Brown said. “The national number was 1.7 percent growth and Nevada had 3.4 percent growth. The Las Vegas metro area also saw 2.9 percent of job growth, also greater than the average.”

More senior citizens are moving to the state and retiring in areas such as Las Vegas and Henderson.

“We are seeing a fair number of retirees coming to Nevada for the low housing prices and the mild winter climate,” Brown said.

The increase in business and companies moving to the county are factors that not only lead to population growth but economic growth, Wardlaw said.

“In the aggregate we are looking at a population growth between 20,000 and 50,000 per year in the upcoming years,” he said. “That’s assuming that there is not another big economic downturn.”

Brown said he believes Las Vegas and Clark County will continue to experience steady population and economic growth as long as the economy of the state continues to be diversified.

“The kind of growth that we saw prior to the great recession was not sustainable,” he said. “It was a boom in construction fueled by unrealistic economic expectations. That’s just not sustainable.”

Other Nevada counties such as Carson City, Esmeralda, Eureka, Elko, Humboldt, Lyon and Washoe also experienced growth, according to the Census Bureau.

Contact reporter Maria Agreda at magreda@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0391.