Nevada’s population seen reaching 3.3 million in 2033

CARSON CITY — Nevada’s population could end up growing by more than 290,000 from 2000 to 2020, the Nevada State Demographer’s Office at the University of Nevada, Reno, reported Wednesday.

The office released its most recent population projections through 2033 for Nevada and its individual counties.

The new Tesla Gigafactory is an important factor in the new estimates, and its impact will ripple across much of the state, the report says. Factoring the battery plant into the population estimates, along with some other changes, reflects an additional nearly 35,000 people statewide by 2033, with most of that occurring in Washoe and Storey counties.

But some of that increase, an estimated 1,641 residents, is projected for Clark County because of job creation primarily in the hotel and professional and administrative services job sectors, said Jeff Hardcastle, the state demographer who prepared the estimates.

The new projections show Nevada’s population hitting 3.3 million by 2033.

In a special session in September, the Nevada Legislature approved the electric car maker’s battery plant for a site in Storey County. The project is projected to generate $100 billion for the state economy over the next 20 years.

“Nevada was hit by three major economic factors in the past decade: the housing bubble, the spike in fuel prices and the financial crisis; yet we grew by 35 percent from 2000 to 2010,” Hardcastle said. “We are recovering and could end up growing by more than 290,000 from 2000 to 2020, roughly equal to the last year’s estimated population of Boulder City and Henderson.

Given Nevada’s current levels of employment and the potential for growth, the 2014 projections are for a statewide increase of 528,107 people over the next 20 years.

Clark County could experience an increase of 328,379 people in that time to 2.36 million.

Washoe County could see an increase of 147,422 people; and other northwest counties (Carson City, Churchill, Douglas, Lyon, and Storey counties) could see a population increase of 44,034.

The counties along Interstate 80 (Elko, Eureka, Humboldt, Lander and Pershing counties) could see an increase of 5,854 people; and the balance of the state (Esmeralda, Lincoln, Mineral, Nye and White Pine counties) could see an increase of 2,409 people.

Population projections are created using the Regional Economics Model Inc. It 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 such as Moody’s Economy.com to assist in the projections.

“In looking at Nevada compared to the rest of the country and surrounding states, Nevada continues to lag behind in job growth, but that is changing,” Hardcastle said. “Since the bottom of employment for Nevada in September 2010, we have regained 58.6 percent of the jobs that had been lost, almost half of that in the past year. Our annual job growth rate has been 2.5 percent since the bottom and is only exceeded by Utah for the states surrounding us.

“For the period between 2013 and 2020, we expect the annualized rate to be 1.8 percent with a recovery of the number of jobs lost by 2016. The growth in jobs will exceed the growth in the labor force, so there may be more opportunity for people looking to re-enter the labor force.”

Accommodation and food services and arts, entertainment and recreation make up more than 353,000 jobs.

Hardcastle expects to see gains in manufacturing over the long term, but the other sectors with greater growth will be in construction, administrative and management services.

The next two largest sectors, health care and retail, equal 279,000 jobs.

“No matter how we look at it, gaming continues to be the biggest driver for employment in Nevada,” Hardcastle said. “But it is becoming more competitive across the country for the tourist dollar in general.”

Contact Sean Whaley at swhaley@reviewjournal.com or 775-687-3900. Find him on Twitter: @seanw801.

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