County sees decrease in population

Nye County saw a decrease in population, as the amount of residents in the area fell 3.8 percent from 2010 to 2014, according to data released by the U.S. Census Bureau last week.

The population in Nye County plummeted from 43,945 in 2010 to 42,282, or 1,663 residents in those four years.

During that time period there were 1,590 births, 2,655 deaths and a net migration of -661.

Losing any amount of the population is bad news for the county, who is already in a budget bind as county Commissioner Frank Carbone explained.

“It’s revenue. It’s the tax revenue. If people aren’t paying property taxes we don’t get that revenue,” Carbone said. “If they’re not buying the products in the stores with the sales tax, and we get a percentage of that, it’s still revenue.”

Compared to the same time period, the population in the state of Nevada as a whole jumped 5.1 percent, going from 2.7 million residents in 2010 to 2.84 million residents in 2014.

Of the residents that call the county home, 27.9 percent of the population is 65 years old and older, 18 percent are under 18 years old and 4.3 percent are under 5 years of age.

According to state demographer Jeffrey Hardcastle, the older population directly affects the average earnings in Nye County as the higher rate of elderly people living throughout the area compared to the state hurts the overall wages.

“(An) item impacting income is that of an older population and folks not participating in the labor force. Their income is going to be driven by pension, savings, and other sources,” Hardcastle said.

The median household income in the county was at $39,876, well below the state average of $52,800. In Clark County the average household income was $51,214. The poverty rate in the county was at 18.9 percent, which is slightly higher than the state average of 15 percent.

Carbone explained that another part of the problem dealing with lower wages is the amount of jobs and the kind of jobs available in the county.

“We don’t have a big job base. We have mostly local stores,” Carbone said. “We have things like the Big 5, which does not require a bachelor degree, we have people that work at the sheriff’s department. We have a lot of jobs here that don’t require a master’s or bachelor’s degree.”

Of those 25 years of age and older, 83 percent were high school graduates, while 12 percent of those in that age group possessed a bachelor’s degree or higher.

Hardcastle said that there were various issues that relate to the lower household earnings in the county and agreed with Carbone that one was education levels.

“It is not just a question of income but of occupation,” Hardcastle said. “The loss of jobs in health care may be tied in with the smaller proportion of bachelor’s degrees.”

The state average for those having a bachelor’s degree or higher was 22 percent, which can attribute to the lower median household income in the county.

Carbone hopes that the trend changes in the near future as the county looks to improve the quality of life in the area.

“As we try to progress of course, we’re going to try and bring in businesses that require a higher education that will bring that population with it,” he said.