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Nevada housing boom reflected in new U.S. Census survey

Staff and wire reports

LAS VEGAS – Three out of four Nevada homeowners live in a house built since 1970 and the typical home is worth $140,880, according to a census survey released Sunday.

Nevada ranked 14th in a state-by-state comparison of home values – well above the national average of $120,162. The survey found the typical homeowner pays a mortgage of $1,386 a month.

The data comes from a Census Bureau snapshot of Nevada drawn from a nationwide survey of households that asked more extensive questions than regular census forms.

It shows population and housing booms continuing to push home prices up in the Silver State.

The survey found more than half the 744,452 homes in Nevada are owner-occupied. Carson City’s contribution to that total is 12,724 homes, up from 9,582 in 1990, according to 2000 census statistics.

The state median household income is $42,177.

The survey found that 291,164 apartment-dwellers in the state pay an average of $702 a month in rent. In Carson City, 7,447, or 36.9 percent, of house-dwellers rent, according to census statistics.

The survey found than two-thirds of the 914,507 people not working at home travel less than 30 minutes to work. The median annual income for men was $28,609, while women in the state made $20,862 a year.

The data represented the first statistical profile drawn from a test census program called the American Community Survey. It is intended to replace the so-called long census form that Congress is expected to abolish for privacy reasons.

Experts, however, worried that the test survey was so broad nationally that it couldn’t draw enough data locally to accurately freeze-frame demographic patterns.

”At this point, it tells us how Nevada compares with other states around the country,” said Jeff Hardcastle, Nevada state demographer. ”But it doesn’t give us strong enough data to talk about the typical Nevadan and how Nevada compares within itself.”

The survey did not separate communities within the state.

Nancy Gordon, associate director for demographic programs for Census Bureau, termed the survey a success and said it will provide essential information annually for a rapidly changing information-based society.

Keith Schwer, director of the Center for Business and Economic Research at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, bases annual projections on a university survey of Southern Nevada commerce.

Schwer said having census data updated annually would be a particular benefit in Nevada, where 6 percent growth in recent years quickly makes surveys obsolete.

The American Community Survey was the largest conducted by the Census Bureau outside the decennial census.

The agency is seeking congressional approval and funding to produce the survey annually for counties nationwide beginning in 2003.

The Commerce Department wants to use it as the basis for a redesigned short form-only census in 2010.

Plans call for questioning 250,000 households nationally every month, with results tabulated yearly, instead of the 15 million households the census long form questions once every 10 years.

Among other findings in the survey:

– Almost 22 percent of Nevada residents don’t speak English at home, a figure 5 percent higher than the national average.

– Just 18.3 percent of the Nevada population has a bachelor’s degree or more, compared to 25 percent nationally.

– Seven in 10 Nevada homes have more than one vehicle.

– The average household size in the state is 2.64 residents.

– Fewer people in Nevada receive public assistance than anywhere else in the nation. While the national average is 17 percent, Nevada had less than 12 percent of households on welfare.

According to information released from the 2000 census:

– 13,256 homes in Carson City are occupied by families; 10,080 homes are occupied by married couples, and 2,217 are occupied by single mothers.

– Carson City’s average household size is 2.44 people, and average family size is 2.99 people.

– Of the 5,535 owner-occupied homes in Carson City, 3,238 are valued at between $50,000 and $99,999; 1,963 are valued between $100,000 and $149,999; 691 are valued between $150,000 and $199,999. The remaining 643 are either valued at less than $50,000 or more than $200,000.

– 24.9 percent of householders are aged 55-64 years old, representing the largest block; 20.1 percent are aged 35-44 years; 20.6 percent are aged 45-54 years.

U.S. Census Bureau: http://census.gov