An influx of more than 200,000 new residents into the Las Vegas area the past three years has pushed Clark County up eight spots on the list of the nation's largest counties, according to Census Bureau estimates released Thursday.
In April 2000, Clark County reported more than 1.3 million residents. Over the span of three years and three months, that number grew to more than 1.5 million with the help of favorable economic conditions, including a strong job market.
The population surge allowed Clark County to leap into 17th place on the list of the 100 largest U.S. counties for 2003, surpassing New York and Philadelphia. Los Angeles County topped the list with an estimated population of more than 9.8 million residents in 2003.
"We have momentum," said Keith Schwer, director of The Center for Business and Economic Research at UNLV. "We have been growing strong, and growth creates its own growth."
Nevada was identified by the Census Bureau in December as the fastest-growing state in the nation for the 17th consecutive year as it reported a growth rate of 3.4 percent during 2003.
Although Clark County registered a substantial 14.6 percent increase from 2000 to 2003, it was not the fastest-growing county in the United States. That title went to Loudon County, Va., near Washington, D.C., where the population grew from 169,000 residents in 2000 to more than 221,000 in 2003, an increase of 30.7 percent.
In rate of growth, Clark County was 53rd out of the nation's 3,142 counties.
Lyon County, between Lake Tahoe and Fallon Naval Air Station in northern Nevada, recorded a 16.3 percent increase in population from 2000 to 2003, ranking it the 35th fastest-growing county.
"We are so close to Reno, Carson City and Douglas (County)," said interim Lyon County Manager Rita Evasovic. "People are moving our way because we still have a rural lifestyle."
Lyon County added 5,600 residents to bring its 2003 population to just more than 40,000.
With growth comes challenges, Evasovic said. The county needs to expand its water and sewer services and is looking to developers to help it meet the needs of new residents.
"It's still very much a rural area out here, especially in Yerington," Evasovic said. "We are more a ranching community than anything else."
In total population growth, Lyon County didn't make the list of the nation's top 100 counties.
Clark County and it's increase of more than 200,000 residents moved into fourth place, with only Los Angeles, Maricopa (Ariz.), and Riverside (Calif.) counties registering more total new residents from 2000 to 2003.
Washoe County ranked 61st on the list, reporting an increase of more than 31,000 residents into the Reno area during the same period.
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