Lyon County leads Nevada with biggest population jump
LAS VEGAS — Tens of thousands of people headed to the Silver State last year for job opportunities and a favorable tax climate, helping Nevada retain its title as the fastest-growing state in the nation, according to demographers, economic experts and Census Bureau estimates released Thursday.
Although Clark County has 70 percent of the state’s population, tiny Lyon County saw the largest percentage jump in residents thanks, in part, to new businesses. Amazon.com and United Parcel Service have both built distribution facilities in the area.
A former mining town in the late 1800s, Lyon County had 37,879 residents last year, an increase of 4.6 percent over the year before.
“We’ve got a real trend here,” Lyon County Manager Stephen Snyder said. “Growth means a lot of opportunities for jobs and housing.”
Rapid development in Clark Country attracted an additional 62,559 residents in 2002, a 4.3 percent increase. Clark County grew by more total residents than each of the states of Tennessee, Alaska, Idaho, Mississippi and Oregon.
As a whole, Nevada grew 3.6 percent from 2001 to 2002 to reach a total population of just more than 2.1 million. Nevada’s neighbor, Arizona, reported a 2.8 percent increase in population, while California saw a modest 1.5 percent increase.
Economic experts said Nevada will continue to draw new residents — although at a much slower pace than in previous years because of the current nationwide economic downturn.
“(A 3.6 percent jump) is modest by Nevada standards, but nationally 1 percent or less would be classified as modest,” said Keith Schwer, director of Center for Business and Economic Research at University of Nevada, Las Vegas.
Experts said the state has maintained its rate of growth due, in large part, to stability in the job market. While thousands were laid off in states across the country, Nevada reported an additional 30,000 jobs from 2001 to 2002, state demographer Jeff Hardcastle said.
“The one strong point Nevada has going for it is fairly strong job creation,” Hardcastle said.
In addition, Nevada has relied on traditionally lower housing costs, low inflation and low interest rates to spur growth, he said. Nevada has no state income tax and is considered among the most tax-friendly states in the nation.
“To the extent that those things change, we would not have as strong a growth as we had in the past,” Hardcastle said.
Rural Nevada, hit hard by job losses in the mining industry, saw mostly decreases in population estimates. Esmeralda County’s population fell from 951 residents to 884 in 2002.
Hardcastle said Lyon County has been successful by drawing residents who are willing to live there and commute to nearby Reno. New businesses also have helped, he said.
For southern Nevada, growth has been tied to the tourism industry. An estimated 1.5 jobs are created for each hotel room that is built.
“We’re no longer building hotel rooms at the very rapid rate that we were in the 1990s,” Schwer said. “Over the next few years a couple thousand rooms will be added each year. That’s pretty slow in comparison.”
To compile the Census Bureau’s annual estimate of county populations, demographers studied birth and death records while estimating immigration and domestic relocations based on the 2000 census.
On the Net: U.S. Census Bureau: http://www.census.gov
Nevada’s counties ranked by total population estimates for 2002
By The Associated Press
Nevada’s counties ranked by total population for 2002, according to estimates released Thursday by the Census Bureau:
1. Clark: 1,522,164
2. Washoe: 362,325
3. Carson City: 54,311
4. Elko: 44,549
5. Douglas: 43,189
6. Lyon: 37,879
7. Nye: 34,499
8. Churchill: 24,022
9. Humboldt: 15,004
10. White Pine: 8,689
11. Pershing: 6,638
12. Lander: 5,253
13. Mineral: 4,834
14. Lincoln: 4,243
15. Storey: 3,423
16. Eureka: 1,585
17. Esmeralda: 884