Douglas County’s population is expected to continue to decrease over the next two years, according to estimates released by the Nevada State Demographer’s Office on Wednesday.
The state shows the county population dropping 300 people to 47,714 in 2013. That decrease is expected to continue until 2015 when the population is anticipated to bottom out at 47,405, before slowly rising again, cracking 50,000 around 2029. The projected growth rate would remain at a half percent or less a year over the next 20 years, according to the demographer’s estimate.
The population outlook for 2031 has increased to 50,390.
Employment over the next two decades will see decreases in traditional Nevada sectors such as agriculture and mining in the county.
However, construction employment is expected to grow substantially as is administration and waste management services as will health care and social assistance.
The county’s largest sector today will continue to be the largest sector in 2032 according to estimates. Accommodations and food services will grow 37 percent over the next 20 years to account for more than a fifth of the county’s total workforce.
Manufacturing is expected to take a slight hit in the county during the next two decades.
“As our state recovers, people should bear in mind that Nevada was hit by three economic factors in the last decade: the housing bubble, the spike in fuel prices, and the financial crisis. Even so we grew by 35 percent from 2000 to 2010,” Jeff Hardcastle, state demographer, said. “Currently, we are projecting our state will continue to grow decade to decade at a rate slightly above the projected national rate. From 2010 to 2020 Nevada will grow at 9.6 percent compared to a national forecast of 8.1 percent for example.”
Given Nevada’s current levels of employment and the potential for growth, the 2013 projections are for a statewide increase of 529,322 people over the next 20 years. Broken out by region, Clark County could experience an increase of 377,037 people; Washoe County an increase of 120,070 people; and other northwest counties (Carson City, Churchill, Douglas, Storey and Lyon Counties) could see population increase of 26,808. The counties along Interstate 80 (Elko, Eureka, Humboldt, Lander and Pershing counties) could see an increase of 1,567 people and the balance of the state (Esmeralda, Lincoln, Mineral, Nye and White Pine Counties) could see an increase of 3,840 people.
Population projections are created using the Regional Economics Model. The model allowed Hardcastle to consider the relationship between the Nevada economy and demographic composition of the state, and how that relates to national changes as well as changes in counties throughout the state. He reviews economic activity across the state and uses additional forecasting models like Moody’s Economy.com to assist in preparing these projections.
“In looking at Nevada compared to the rest of the country and surrounding states, Nevada lags behind in job growth,” Hardcastle said. “Since the bottom of employment for Nevada (in September 2010), we have regained 27.9 percent of the jobs that had been lost. Nationally, that compares to 75 percent and 53.4 percent in California for jobs regained as of June.”
After doing a location quotient analysis, Hardcastle said gaming continues to be the biggest driver for employment in Nevada. A location quotient analysis compares how competitive a region is to other areas and how much demand for goods and services are met locally.
“Educational services and healthcare have the most room to grow to meet our statewide needs,” Hardcastle said. “There are good indications that there is more demand for these services compared to their availability in Nevada.”