The populations of both Fallon and Churchill County continue to increase.
And the same goes for the entire state, which has now reached an estimated 3 million residents, says Jeff Hardcastle, the Nevada state demographer, whom I spoke with by telephone late last week.
“These figures tell me that Nevada has a healthy growth rate, and that we have people growing up in Nevada who are moving into adulthood and becoming invested in their communities,” added Hardcastle, who works out of the Nevada Department of Taxation office in Reno.
Fallon’s population will reach about 9,030 this year, which is 424 more than the 8,606 estimated by the last U.S. Census, which was conducted in 2010. (Censuses are taken every 10 years.) The county’s population, which includes the city’s 9,030, is projected to be 25,782 this year. The 2010 Census Report estimated the county’s population to be 24,877.
For 2019 and 2020, the county’s headcounts are estimated to be, respectively, 26,019 and 26,185.
“Your Fallon and Churchill County populations indicate continuing rises that go back to 2014. What I’m waiting to see is if that the county’s estimated growth in population could be larger than we expect,” he said. It all depends upon the growth of rents and home prices in Fernley and Washoe County which are brought about by the addition of new employees at the Tesla lithium ion battery gigafactory located about 18 miles east of Reno at the Tahoe Reno Industrial Center off Interstate 80 in Storey County, Hardcastle continued.
The time may come, he said, when Tesla employees will be unable to afford the increasing costs of living in Fernley, Reno and Sparks, and they would have to look farther east to Fallon and Churchill County for less expensive rents and house prices. The $1.3 billion, 1.9 million square-foot Tesla facility broke ground in June, 2014, and additional employees are being hired there to make electric batteries for Tesla’s ramped-up production lines at its automobile factory at Fremont in the San Francisco Bay area.
The high rental rates in Reno, for example, are borne out by a recent nationwide survey conducted by the apartment rental firm Zumper which indicates that Reno, the country’s 85th largest city, has the 66th highest rental costs. The number of homeless people in Reno who cannot afford to rent or buy homes there also is rapidly rising.
As of today, Churchill County ranks the eighth largest in population of Nevada’s 17 counties. The seven counties ahead of Churchill are Clark, Washoe, Carson City, Douglas, Elko, Lyon and Nye. The nine counties with populations less than Churchill are Humboldt, Lander, Eureka, Esmeralda, Lincoln, Mineral, Pershing, Storey and White Pine.
Esmeralda County, which will have an estimated 940 residents this year, is by far the state’s smallest in terms of population. Selected Western Nevada counties and their 2018 estimated populations are Lyon, 54,178; Mineral, 4,528; Lander, 5,975; Nye, 45,541 and Pershing, 6,768. This 6,768 Pershing figure includes the 1,680 prisoners incarcerated at the Lovelock Correctional Center off I-80, about a 15-minute drive east from Lovelock.
The vast majority of Nevada’s population, of course, is found in Clark County, which had an estimated 2,240,200 residents at the end of 2017. The population of far northwestern Nevada, which includes Reno, Carson City, Douglas County and the Lake Tahoe area, is about 614,400. Washoe County’s population is expected to reach about 452,000 this year.
Nevada led the nation in population percentage growth for several years before the Great Recession began in 2007, and data from the U.S. Census Bureau indicates that the state today is the second-fastest growing state, behind only Utah. The six other fastest-growing states are, in descending order, Idaho, Florida, Washington, Oregon, Colorado and Arizona. The eight states losing the largest percentage in population are, in descending order, West Virginia, Illinois, Vermont, Connecticut, Wyoming, Pennsylvania, Mississippi and New York.
The growth rate percentages of Nevada’s cities, from highest to lowest, are Mesquite, North Las Vegas, Elko, Henderson, Winnemucca, Sparks, Reno, Las Vegas, Fernley, Boulder City and Fallon.
David C. Henley is publisher emeritus of the Lahontan Valley News and Fallon Eagle-Standard.