Monday, November 17, 2008

Finally, a statistic that makes sense

The Las Vegas Sun's Brian Wargo reported over the weekend that the population of Clark County fell by 10,000 souls from July 07 to July 08. This, after decades of constant, nation-leading growth. Oddly, the Las Vegas Review-Journal chose not to cover this rather significant change of demographic pace.

More important to me, though, is that this proves I'm not (that) crazy after all. For the past year I've asked this very simple question: If thousands of new people are still moving here every month, then why would the housing market ever decline? Where would all those people be living? As the landlord of two properties in very different economic strata, I can tell you that rents aren't rising, either. And student enrollment has flattened, too, to 0.8 percent, fellow Petcaster Emily Richmond reported in September. Assuming that current residents are procreating at a rate that would lead to more than a 1 percent population increase a year on their own -- the CIA puts the U.S. live birth rate at 1.4 percent, in fact -- this had to mean people are not only not moving here but they're leaving, too.

Alas, some continue to spread the lie that 4-, 5- or even 6,000 people a month are moving here. Who are these evil-doers? Mostly, they're real estate agents. North American Realty of Nevada, for instances, said so in an Oct. 13 post here. (In fact, they say all 6,000 are moving to Henderson.) Realtor Brent Jenkins of Re/Max Central (left) on Oct. 23 also promulgated this lie, although he's more vague by claiming it's "3-5k people per month." But they're not alone. The City of Las Vegas' own official 2008 Community Profile uses the 5,000-a-month lie on page 49. Granted, they were using old data.

Get used to it, folks. It's not quite as promotional, but here's the truth: 833.33 people are leaving every month. And still, I can't find a parking space anywhere.


J Barikhan said...
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Anonymous said...

I think you're comparing apples and oranges, and calling liars a stretch. It seems from the article that the county's population estimates may have been off, and are just that, estimates.

Their 'formula' doesn't account for those that may now be sharing living space with friends or family from a foreclosure or tight economy, or renting privately. It doesn't necessariliy prove they've moved out of the valley or that the population has shrunk. It's often called a statistical hiccup when figures get skewed from an abnormal situation. The boom & bust has caused an anomally.

The county may also have previously included investor homes in their 'formula' that were actually unoccupied, that now bank owned are listed as vacant and change their count.

The numbers you speak of that agents and others including the news media have quoted come from a different source. UNLV tracks the number of driver's licenses turned in, and even that number doesn't include those that move here and are unlicensed or keep the one from their home state.

Also from the Las Vegas Sun...

That said, if the 10,000 less were true, there are still thousands more moving here, or at least trading in their licenses, and to balance that out it would have to mean that 70,000 or so have moved out of the valley in the last year. That also seems unlikely.

Judy and Dagmar Jenner said...

Good point, Steve. I also find it hard to believe that thousands of people are moving to Vegas every month, but I haven't bothered finding data to prove the contrary. Local companies are doing massive lay-offs, gaming revenues are down, the real estate market is a nightmare: unfortunately, our Las Vegas is not the best place to be at the moment. I love it anyway. And BTW, there's plenty of parking at Trader Joe's mid-afternoon, which is great for us self-employed folks!