Census depopulates Douglas County | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Census depopulates Douglas County

Kurt Hildebrand, The Record-Courier

For the second year in a row, the U.S. Census has shown a decline in Douglas County’s population.

According to figures released on Thursday, the county lost 134 people between July 1, 2007 and July 1, 2006. That’s less than the decrease between 2005 and 2006 when 189 people left the county according to the census bureau.

Annual estimates for county populations are issued by the census in the spring following the end of the year.

Coalition for Smart Growth consultant Lynn Hettrick believes job loss is contributing to the depopulation of Douglas County.

“I would bet a good deal of this is due to job loss in the construction industry,” he said. “And we don’t have many jobs that pay as well as construction.”

Hettrick said the closing of businesses in town supports with that.

“You have fewer people with less money and that’s obviously hurting business.”

A 36-year resident and former state legislator, Hettrick said he is surprised by two years of population loss in a row.

“Growth has been so steady, it’s surprising that it is dropping,” he said. “I think most of the indicators are quite good, but the reality is that construction and residential growth are a huge part of our economy. A lot of it has been growth driven.”

He said the coalition, like other organizations, is looking for good candidates for county commission.

“We’re looking for a reasonable candidate who believes we need a control on growth, but enough growth to keep the economy stable.”

Sustainable Growth Initiative Committee Co-Chair John Garvin said it is clear that the number of people moving to the county has slowed.

“With the economy, people are no longer picking up and moving here from various points,” he said. “Some people have moved out, which is reflective of the employment situation, particularly in construction. There is some question whether the construction workers all lived here in the first place. Some were coming from Lyon County and others from Washoe County. But it is definitely reflective of the economic conditions here for the past year or so.”

According to the census estimate, there were 45,406 people in Douglas County in July 2007, in July 2006 there were 45,540.

If accurate, Douglas County’s population has declined to 2003 levels.

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