Nevada makes census map for the most explosive growth |

Nevada makes census map for the most explosive growth

When the long-awaited U.S. Census Bureau results were released Thursday, Nevada made the map for having the most explosive growth over the last decade.

Nevada’s population is 1,998,257, compared to 1,201,833 in 1990, according to the Bureau’s preliminary count of the 2000 population. In March, the breakdown of local and county population statistics will be released and used to help redraw congressional and state legislative districts.

In line with a western shift in national population, the surge pushed the state to the No. 1 slot for the largest rate of population gain nationwide with 66.3 percent in the last 10 years.

Its standing also gained the state additional representation, as Nevada will gain a seat in the U.S. Congress.

But clout can only go so far.

“We do pick up a congressional seat. But the key is to make sure all the federal dollars get back (to the state),” Nevada Secretary of State Dean Heller said, citing the dollars-to-doughnuts population equation that determines how much money states and local governments receive.

Heller has a pile of programs at least partially based on federal money, including Medicaid and Medicare – the government’s health insurance programs for the poor and seniors, respectively. There’s also WIC – the Women, Infants and Children program distributes food to low-income families.

And state transportation projects and education subsidies directly benefit from population stats.

“Finally, after 10 years of enormous growth, the figures better reflect what the population has been,” Heller said, stressing the possible drain of resources from the population demand.

Whether the population will pay for itself in federal dollars remains to be seen as the state government is assembling its budget.

Calls made to Gov. Kenny Guinn’s press office were unreturned.

Much of the drain may be contingent on the demographics of the people moving in and the type of economic growth, he said.

For example, seniors have comprised a large retirement community Nevada officials have noticed are relocating to the state.

“They tap into services, and they’re not (income) taxpayers,” Heller said, preferring a more evenly split population of seniors and working-age residents.

The other preferred change Heller would like to see for Nevada involves the types of companies building in the state, such as high-tech companies.

Traditionally, Nevada’s primary growth has been fueled by the gaming industry on both the northern and southern ends of the state. The common belief is, to the south, Clark County has experienced the majority of the population growth at an estimated 70 percent.

But some would argue the residents to the north benefit more because they benefit by the representation without dealing with the added pressure on the area’s infrastructure.

“The additional representation is naturally beneficial to the state no matter where the population is that qualifies them,” Tahoe-Douglas Chamber of Commerce Director Kathleen Farrell said, adding that Northern Nevada is in “an enviable position.”

“The one thing that’s good about doing business in Northern Nevada is the congressional and state officials are so accessible,” Farrell said, citing U.S. Sen. Harry Reid’s “commitment to Lake Tahoe.”

“We’re going to increase Nevada’s clout in the congressional delegation,” the Democratic senator’s spokesman Mark Schuermann said, after discussing the matter with Reid.

“This is great news. Senator Reid is very happy about it. It confirms what we thought was happening in Nevada,” Schuermann said.

“Historically, we’ve always been gaining population,” Nevada demographer Jeff Hardcastle said. “We’ve been doubling or close to it every year.”

Now that the number of people has provided a picture of Nevada, how the four congressional districts will be drawn is up in the air.

One plan calls for the districts to share urban and rural areas, while another guards against that idea. Yet another proposal would create a suburban district for the state’s new seat, which is believed to bring out many candidates for the 2002 race.

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