Jeff Ackerman: We’re getting older and growing more slowly | TheUnion.com
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Jeff Ackerman: We’re getting older and growing more slowly

There weren’t many surprises in the newly released Economic and Demographic Profile report of Nevada County. We are still mostly white, getting older, and there aren’t as many of us as some would have you believe.

The report – funded through a grant from the Golden Sierra Job Training Agency – was released last week by the Sierra Economic Resources Council. It was prepared for the Nevada County Board of Supervisors in cooperation with the Nevada County Economic Resources Council. I would have used acronyms for all of that but I didn’t want to make you dizzy. After all, you are probably too old to keep up and really don’t care who wrote the damned thing.

But it’s always good to look in the mirror. Even at our age.



The things I always look for first in these kinds of studies are the population numbers. I’ve been saying since I had hair that Western Nevada County really isn’t growing that much. It just seems that way because the intersections are all screwed up and the folks who were paid good money to keep the vehicles flowing at a good pace were never drug tested.

“The County population is growing at a little more than half the population growth of the state,” reads the first bullet point of the executive summary. “Most of those contributing to the County’s growth appear to be moving into Truckee rather than other parts of the County. Compared to statewide growth, Nevada County is the 36th fastest growing out of 58 California counties.” Nevada County grew by 556 people (0.6 percent) from 2005 to 2006, with Truckee accounting for 169 of those.




A couple of pages later we see the numbers for Grass Valley and Nevada City. From January 1, 2005 to January 1, 2006 those two Western Nevada County hubs lost a combined 39 residents (they were taken by spaceships). That’s right, the population of Nevada City and Grass Valley actually shrank in the last recorded year. Most all of our growth, then, came in the unincorporated areas of Western Nevada County, which also contributes to traffic because folks can’t walk to town.

“Truckee continues to be the largest and fastest growing town within the County,” reads the report. “Grass Valley is the 194th fastest growing city in California, while Nevada City is the 453rd fastest growing out of 477 cities in the state.”

How old are we? According to the report, “The County population’s median age is very nearly 10 years older than that of the state.” Our median age is 43.1 years, compared with 33.3 for all of California, according to the study. Most of the older people live in the unincorporated areas, while 38.1 percent of all youth 19 and under live within the city limits (Grass Valley, Truckee, or Nevada City). I suppose you could conclude that older people love trees more than teens do, but I suspect it’s simply the fact that younger families with teens can’t afford a 3,000-square-foot home on an acre parcel on Banner Mountain.

Some other nuggets from the report include:

Ð Nearly $137 million was spent by consumers “off the hill,” denying local retailers a good chunk of money. I’ve seen other studies that indicate roughly 34 cents of every dollar spent is spent off the hill, which means Placer, Sacramento and Yuba counties are benefiting from our sales tax dollars. It also means we are squeezing our own municipalities and non-profits who rely on local retailers for support. Think about that next time you are at a public park, or have a need for Hospice.

Ð Crime actually went down from 2001 to 2005, according to the study. That could either mean our cops and courts are doing a terrific job, or that we are simply too old to stay up late enough to get into trouble. Old white people aren’t very exciting after 9 p.m.

Ð Our local governments are spending more than they are making. “Unfortunately, City and County expenses have been growing at a faster rate than revenues,” reads the study. I know … hard to believe, isn’t it?

What are the opportunities? Old people need a lot of pampering, so it would be good to get into a business that caters to them. Examples include lawn furniture, especially hammocks. Anything that has to do with medicine will also be a good business opportunity here. Old people love nothing better than to talk about their latest ailments. I hear it every week on my Senior Softball team. I don’t have the heart to tell them that I really don’t care how much they stay up all night peeing. It’s just way too much information.

Pet supplies ought to also sell well up here. When you get old and all of your kids have moved to Las Vegas, all you have left is a dog or cat. The good news is they cost a fraction of what it takes to feed kids and grandkids and they don’t want your house when you die.

So that’s it. If you want something to read from the hammock, you can get a copy of the study at http://www.sedd.org, or give me a call and I’ll read it to you. Just make sure you call before 1 p.m. That’s my nap time.

ooo

Jeff Ackerman is the publisher of The Union. His column appears on Tuesdays. Contact him at 477-4299, jeffa@theunion.com, or 464 Sutton Way, Grass Valley 95945.


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