Posted on February 23, 2014
Nevada’s Hispanic population has surged in the last decade, increasing from 19.7 percent of the total population in 2000 to 27.3 percent in 2012, according to U.S. Census Bureau figures.
But in recent years, the biggest group of immigrants coming to Nevada from outside the United States — both legally and illegally — are not Latino, according to Census Bureau data released last month. Immigrants from Asia almost double the immigrants from Mexico and Central America, according to the Census Bureau’s County-to-County Migration Flows data based on its annual American Community Survey.
Robert Lang, director of Brookings Mountain West at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, said there are a few major job magnets for Southern Nevada that pull employees from Asia.
One is health care. The Las Vegas area has is missing about a third of the health care workers it needs to support the population it has, so it draws heavily from overseas, especially from the Philippines, where it gets a lot of nurses, Lang said. Brookings Mountain West has studied this topic, Lang said.
“The Philippines puts nurses through a serious science program,” Lang said.
Another is gaming. Singapore and Macau are undergoing major gaming expansion, and there are corporations connected to those areas and Las Vegas, so there is natural exchange of workers and managers, he said.
There’s also the gaming manufacturing business. The No. 1 user of green cards to get foreign workers is UNLV, but No. 2 is Konami Gaming based in Las Vegas, Lang said. They get engineers, people with high-technology skills and other highly skilled workers from Asia.
All this has meant that the Las Vegas area doubled its Asian population in the last decade, he said.
“It’s a real boom in Asian-Americans,” Lang said. “It means that Las Vegas takes on the quality the way the West Coast has of multiple ethnic groups being drawn to the region.”
The Filipino population is the fastest growing segment of the Asian population in Nevada. In October 2011, the Census Bureau sent Clark County voter Registrar Larry Lomax a letter telling him that the Filipino population crossed a threshold, and Clark County now must offer ballots in the Filipino language of Tagalog.
A major driving force drawing Hispanics to the region had been the construction industry, but after that industry tanked with the recession, the number of Hispanics coming to the area dropped and many either moved to other areas or went back to their countries of origin, Lang said.
Of people moving to Nevada from within the U.S. borders, the counties with the biggest numbers are Los Angeles, San Diego, San Bernardino and Orange counties in California and the Arizona county with Phoenix. The next highest is Honolulu County in Hawaii.
The migration between Hawaii and Las Vegas has been high since at least the 1990s with Las Vegas earning the nickname of being the ninth Hawaiian island, Lang said. The climate and tourist economies seem to be the strong ties, he said.
When Nevadans move to another county, guess which county is their No. 1 destination? It’s Washoe County.
This reflects that Washoe County is the beneficiary of being the largest in-state destination for the largest county in the state, Clark County, which has 72 percent of the state’s population. The second highest in-state movers to Washoe County come from Lyon County.
State Demographer Jeff Hardcastle said his studies show that northwest Nevada is connected economically and there is much commuting between all counties. Hardcastle also called Lyon County an “odd mixture” of a bedroom community and industrial base, with some people living in Washoe County and commuting to Lyon County to work and people living in Lyon County and commuting to Washoe or Storey counties to work.