Nevada has changed dramatically |

Nevada has changed dramatically

by staff

With nearly 60 percent more people than it had just 10 years ago, nearly all of them living in cities and large increases among seniors and non-white, non-European ethnic groups, Nevada is a dramatically different state as the year 2000 approaches.

With a projected total population of two million, it’s still the nation’s fastest growing state. And the vast majority of that growth has been and still is in Clark County. In fact, experts say the south will have almost 70 percent of the state’s population when the 2000 census is completed.

In 2000, Clark County will have about 1.4 million residents with the remaining 600,000 split equally between Washoe County and the rest of the state.

By far the most dramatic increase has been the state’s Hispanic population. At the 1970 count, there were just over 27,000 Hispanics in Nevada. Their numbers have more than doubled every 10 years since. The projected population for 2000 is 272,415 – a 10-fold increase in 30 years and 13.5 percent of Nevada.

They aren’t alone. African Americans are more than five times as numerous in Nevada as 30 years ago and twice as numerous at nearly 160,000 since 1990. And the number of Asians and Pacific Islanders has grown from almost non-existent 30 years ago to 68,000 in all.

The vast majority of the state’s newcomers have moved to the Las Vegas area where the burgeoning tourism and gaming industry is creating thousands of jobs each year.

In Clark County, Hispanic numbers have risen 110 percent in the past decade. But their numbers have also increased significantly in other parts of the state – by more than 70 percent in both Carson City and Douglas County and just about 100 percent over the decade in Lyon, Nye and Pershing counties.

Seniors have also increased their numbers substantially in Nevada over the years. In 9 of the 17 counties, Medicare numbers have grown faster than the the population. And census estimates show the percentages of those over 65 growing faster than other age groups statewide.

Compared with the 1960 census, Nevadans aged 30 and under are a smaller percentage of the total population. With the 2000 count just a few months away, more than 14 percent of the population in 7 of Nevada’s counties is over age 65 including Carson City, Douglas, Lyon and Mineral.

The percentage of Nevadans aged 65 and up rose from 10.9 percent in 1989 to 12.1 percent in 1999.

But that is still below the national estimate of 12.8 percent for 2000.

Nevada, historically a rural state with roots in ranching and mining, had become more than half urban by the 1950 census when rapidly growing population centers in Las Vegas and Reno overtook the “cow counties.” By the 1990 census, nine of 10 Nevadans lived in cities even though growth in Reno slowed. That trend continued through the 1990s with huge growth in the Las Vegas area.

Preliminary projections show that in 2000, fully 95 percent of the state’s population will be classified as “urban.”

One thing most Nevadans are not is “native.” The percentage of Nevada residents born in the Silver State was just 21.4 percent in 1980 and 21.8 percent in 1990.

Between 1990 and 1998, Nevada had 103,023 more births than deaths according to the U.S. Census Bureau. During that same period, a total of 442,016 people moved into the state. Which means Nevada should still have the lowest percentage of native born residents in the 2000 census.

By comparison, there are 16 states in which more than 70 percent of the total population was born there, primarily in the midwest and southern regions of the country.

In 1980, Nevada was listed as having 800,503 residents. That had grown to 1,201,833 million in 1990. The estimates from the state Demographer’s Office are that 2000 will record the state as having 2,034,020 people, an increase of 59 percent.