Great Recession Does What Little Else Could Do to Nevada: It Reverses Population Growth

Fear and Loathing really has come to Las Vegas - 
at least in the economy
It took the country's worst natural and man-made disaster to decimate Louisiana's population in the same way the Great Recession has ravaged Nevada's.

The nation's fastest-growing state for 19 consecutive years until 2006, Nevada will see its population drop an estimated 70,000, or 2.6% this year, to 2.64 million, Nevada's state demographer predicts. It would be the largest annual drop for a state since thousands of Louisiana residents were displaced by Hurricane Katrina, slicing that state's population 5.7% to 4.2 million in 2006, USA Today reports.

"The major loss (in Nevada) is happening between now and 2013," Jeff Hardcastle, state demographer at the University of Nevada-Reno, told the newspaper. "In a state that has two main industries — gaming and construction — people realize we're not in a good situation."

Driving this population exodus is Nevada's dubious #1 rankings in foreclosures, personal bankruptcies and unemployment. One out of every 29 housing units received a foreclosure filing in the third quarter of this year — almost five times the national average, according to RealtyTrac. Nevada's unemployment rate is 14.4% compared with 9.6% nationwide, while Las Vegas' 15% jobless rate has topped the country for five consecutive months.

Economic diversification tops the state's agenda,  Robert, Lang, urban sociologist at the University of Nevada-Las Vegas, told the newspaper. "It's a signal for a shift in the Sun Belt. Reliance on growth due to in-migration is, in the short-term, not sustainable."

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