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California Migration Boosts Nevada Population Above 3 Million

Californians fleeing the nation's highest housing prices were key to Nevada's growth according to newly released Census data. The Las Vegas Review-Journal's reporter, editorial board, and readers all had something to say about the newcomers.
November 30, 2019, 7am PST | Irvin Dawid
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"More than 50,000 Californians moved to Nevada from July 2017 to July 2018, the second highest amount in the past 10 years, according to newly released U.S. Census Bureau estimates," reports Michael Scott Davidson for the Las Vegas Review-Journal on Nov. 14, bringing the population to 3,003,761.

The influx led the Census Bureau to crown Nevada the nation’s fastest-growing state in 2018 [though tied with Idaho], and the Silver State ranked second in both 2017 and 2016. The state’s population surpassed 3 million people last year, according to Census estimates.

“There are more adults in Nevada that were born in California than born in Nevada,” said Robert Lang, executive director of Brookings Mountain West at UNLV.

However, the relationship between the Silver and Golden states is reciprocal in terms of migration.

[M]ore Nevadans move to California each year than any other state. The Golden State offers more specialized, higher-paying jobs for skilled workers, University of Southern California demographer Dowell Myers told the Review-Journal earlier this year.

But the latest migration estimates show the number of Nevadans moving to California dropped to its lowest in the past 10 years. The Silver State lost some 22,400 residents to its western neighbor, about 10,000 less than it did in 2009 and the lowest number in the past five years.

Davidson's article was the subject of his paper's editorial on Nov.22, "Driven out by liberal policies, Californians flock to Nevada." As the title suggests, the editors didn't have kind words for their western neighbor's leaders in state government, blaming them for soaring housing prices and being unable to "keep the lights on," ending the piece with both a welcome and cautionary advice.

Nevada welcomes Golden State transplants with open arms. But perhaps these new arrivals should consider what prompted them to flee California when they next exercise the franchise in their new home.

Readers respond

Davidson's reporting and the editorial generated several responses from readers. One agreed with the editorial's political suggestion to the new transplants, though put it in much harsher terms.

Another analyzed the migration data and shared a rather insightful observation to rebut the editorial's claim that "Nevada is winning" (in terms of migration) that even surprised this correspondent.

"As of 2017, the population of California was about 39.5 million, while the population of Nevada was around 3 million," wrote Richard L. Strickland of North Las Vegas on Nov. 25.

Simple arithmetic finds that 0.75 percent of Nevada residents left for California, compared to about 0.13 percent of California residents going the other way. Another way of saying this is that, per capita, about six times as many Nevadans moved to California than Californians moved to Nevada.

However, as Davidson noted above, Nevada migration to California "dropped to its lowest in the past 10 years." 

The Associated Press also reports on Nevada's population growth based on the Census Bureau's Geographic Mobility data from 2018-2019 (also posted here), citing Davidson's reporting.

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Published on Thursday, November 14, 2019 in Las Vegas Review-Journal
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