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Population growth

It’s going to take a lot more than an extended economic slump to sully Nevada’s long-term prospects. State Demographer Jeff Hardcastle issued his population projections for the next two decades, and the forecast calls for growth that will continue to outpace the country’s.

“The Census Bureau’s national projections show the United States growing 22 percent between 2007 and 2028, and Nevada’s growth rate is projected at 49 percent for the same period,” Mr. Hardcastle said. That means an additional 1 million residents in Clark County, pushing the valley’s population past 3 million and the state’s over 4 million.

To be sure, the valley’s decades-long population boom has slowed considerably. Shrinking consumer confidence has visitor counts sliding. High unemployment and shelved casino projects have hurt the recovery of the housing market and the region’s job base. The Clark County School District reported enrollment growth of a mere 1 percent this year. NV Energy reported about the same increase in electricity hookups.

“It used to be that if you build it, they will come,” Mr. Hardcastle said. “Now, it’s if you build it, they may not come as much.”

Exactly when the economy might show signs of recovery is the question playing out in markets around the world. Plenty of people are betting against it happening anytime soon. But one thing is certain: No one has gotten rich betting against Las Vegas.

When the economy bounces back, the national demographic trend of people moving to the desert Southwest and Southeast from the Midwest and the Northeast will continue.

And as we’ve written before, weather is a minor factor in this migration.

After all, few people would want to leave the pleasant climate of California for the sweltering summers and chilly winters of Las Vegas if Nevada had nothing else to offer.

The state’s business- and job-friendly tax structure continue to be an asset worth protecting. Nevada has no personal or corporate income taxes, no death tax and no retirement income taxes. Its property tax burden is relatively low when compared with other states.

These factors have contributed greatly to Nevada’s past economic prosperity. The state’s political establishment tinkers with them at our own risk.

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