Hot economy spurs growth

Last week's prediction that northwestern Nevada will see strong population growth in the next two decades also means that the region's economy is expected to be strong.

In fact, the population projections by State Demographer Jeff Hardcastle a 33 percent population increase in the region, a 29 percent increase in Washoe County are driven almost entirely by expectations of 20 years of solid economic growth.

The computer model used by Hardcastle to project economic growth don't account for recessions or booms.

Nor does it account for the possibility of a sweeping change in the core of the regional economy that may not be foreseen today.

Instead, the process developed by Regional Economic Models Inc.

of Amherst, Mass., attempts to take a take a long look at a region's economy.

And it assumes that most of the factors that will influence the region's economy in 2024 are visible at least a little today, Hardcastle said.

The model looks, for instance, at the competitiveness of industries in northern Nevada compared with those in the rest of the nation.

From there, the model projects the growth of jobs industry-by-industry and estimates the number of people who will move to the region to fill those jobs.

The arrival in northern Nevada of large numbers of retirees from other states "non-economic in-migration" in the jargon of demographers also is getting greater attention in the model, Hardcastle said.

The demographer said the data used by the Regional Economic Model is increasingly sophisticated.

As it accounts for employment, for instance, the model uses federal data that includes the self-employed as well as the wage-and-salary workers who usually are included in surveys.

And the model makes some calculations of commuting patterns.

After all, Hardcastle said, people don't necessarily live where they work a fact that can play havoc with population projections.

The projections of population growth (and economic growth) grew more sophisticated this year as Hardcastle used data covering 54 sectors of the state's economy.

Previously, the data covered 14 sectors.

"It took a while," he acknowledged.

If nothing else, each session of numbercrunching tied up Harcastle's two-year-old Dell computer for an hour.

Among northwestern Nevada counties, the study projects 20-year population growth of 19 percent in Carson City, 42 percent in Churchill County, 35 percent in Douglas County and 80 percent in Lyon County.

Storey County is projected to see a 16 percent decline.


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