Clark County, which includes Las Vegas and its surrounding areas, currently boasts a population of just over 2.3 million residents. In 2022, the rate of population growth slowed to 1.2 percent, resulting in a net increase of approximately 27,800 residents. This growth rate is significantly lower than the average annual growth rate of 2.2 percent, which produced annual increases of 40,400 residents reported during the past 20 years.
Several factors contribute to this deceleration in population growth. First and foremost, people across the United States are having fewer children. The fertility rate, which represents the average number of children women are expected to have during their lifetime, has declined to around 1.6, down from just above 2.0 between 1990 and 2000. In 2022, the Southern Nevada Health District reported 25,300 births, the lowest number since 2003.
Secondly, the population in the United States is aging. The demographic shift is evident in the fact that the population aged 65 and older is growing nearly five times faster than the total population over the last century. Currently, one in every six Americans falls into this age bracket. Similarly, the Nevada Aging and Disability Services Division’s Elders Count 2023 report reveals that the state’s population of individuals aged 65 and older grew by 46 percent between 2011 and 2019, a rate approximately 3.5 times higher than overall population growth.
Thirdly, migration patterns are undergoing a shift. In 2021, nearly 7.9 million people in the United States relocated from one state to another, compared to just under 7.4 million in 2019. While Nevada captured 1.7 percent of all state-to-state movers in 2021, this figure is slightly down from the 1.8 percent reported in 2019. States, including Idaho and Florida, are gaining a larger share of new residents.
Despite the slowdown in Southern Nevada’s population growth rate, it remains robust compared to the national average. In 2022, the United States reported an overall population growth rate of just under 0.4 percent, which was roughly one-third of Clark County’s rate. Moreover, large counties nationwide— those with one million or more populations—collectively reported a minuscule population growth rate of 0.04 percent in 2022. Impressively, Clark County continues to rank among the top 10 urban centers with the fastest population growth rates.
Of particular significance is the number of newcomers to Southern Nevada and the changing demographics of these new residents. Historically, newcomers typically reported lower household incomes compared to existing residents. IRS data from 2000 and 2010 indicate that households relocating to the region had incomes 5 to 10 percent lower than those already residing in Southern Nevada. However, in 2021, the same IRS data indicate that incoming households now have an average adjusted income 50 percent higher than current residents. Also worth noting is that people leaving Clark County have incomes 13 percent below those choosing to stay.
A closer examination of individuals relocating from California, who account for nearly 46 percent of Clark County’s population influx, provides additional context for these trends. Notably, these newcomers are more highly educated, with 27.4 percent of them holding a bachelor’s degree or higher in 2021, compared to only 17.1 percent in 2011. More of them are engaged in the tech industry, which has increased its share of newcomers from 3.3 percent in 2011 to 7.6 percent in 2021. Furthermore, those reporting that they primarily work from home have risen from 5.3 percent in 2011 to an impressive 28 percent in 2021. It should come as no surprise that more highly educated workers working in emerging industries that have increased geographic flexibility report higher incomes and are migrating to Southern Nevada in increasing numbers.
Our world and community are evolving rapidly, and adapting to these changes will necessitate making trade-offs and finding a balance between quantity and quality. This transition may be challenging for a community that has thrived on rapid growth rates for the past half-century. With that said, it is essential for us to rethink our perception and approach as we strive to sustain prosperity in the decades to come.
Members of the editorial and news staff of the Las Vegas Review-Journal were not involved in the creation of this content.