New demographer says he’s ready for challenge | NevadaAppeal.com

New demographer says he’s ready for challenge

Associated Press

LAS VEGAS – For nearly a decade Jeff Hardcastle has documented Clark County’s unprecedented growth.

Now Hardcastle, a senior planner for the county’s Comprehensive Planning Department, will take his skills and experience to Reno next month, where he will again work with numbers documenting growth – but now for the entire state.

Hardcastle will be Nevada’s new chief demographer, responsible for tracking the numbers throughout the state. His counts of the population and the characteristics of those living here are critically important: They define everything from political representation to the apportionment of state funds.

Hardcastle, 46, said he’s going to be challenged in his new job, but he’s had a lot of good experience in Southern Nevada – the fastest-growing part of the country.

Coming from Southern Nevada has meant that Hardcastle has had to learn the ins and outs of state regulations, experience he can apply in Reno. He’ll have to put some of that experience to work immediately.

As the U.S. Census Bureau is launching its once-a-decade census count next month, Hardcastle will coordinate the state’s efforts to promote accurate results. It’s an important issue for the state because if the count matches predictions, Nevada – and particularly Southern Nevada – could gain another seat in the House of Representatives.

The census also is important in bringing back federal tax dollars to the state and region.

Hardcastle also will immediately dive into providing the near-term growth forecasts for the entire state, information essential for the allocation of resources statewide.

He pointed out that budget needs are growing at least as rapidly as the population. At the same time, the profile of the Nevada resident is changing.

There are more school-age children here than in the past, and more older people are choosing to retire here. Both population groups could put additional demands on the state coffers.

Hardcastle said he’ll emphasize getting accurate forecasts of populations and people out to the public quickly – ”improving the information and getting the information back to the people.”