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As of the census of 2000, there are 499 people, 234 households, and 146 families residing in the town. The population density is 2.0/km² (5.3/mi²). There are 297 housing units at an average density of 1.2/km² (3.2/mi²). The racial makeup of the town is 91.18% White, 0.00% African American, 2.81% Native American, 0.20% Asian, 0.00% Pacific Islander, 4.61% from other races, and 1.20% from two or more races. 11.02% of the population are Hispanic or Latino of any race.
There are 234 households out of which 26.1% have children under the age of 18 living with them, 48.3% are married couples living together, 9.8% have a female householder with no husband present, and 37.2% are non-families. 34.2% of all households are made up of individuals and 6.8% have someone living alone who is 65 years of age or older. The average household size is 2.13 and the average family size is 2.71.
In the town the population is spread out with 22.6% under the age of 18, 7.0% from 18 to 24, 31.5% from 25 to 44, 29.5% from 45 to 64, and 9.4% who are 65 years of age or older. The median age is 38 years. For every 100 females there are 116.0 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there are 120.6 males.
The median income for a household in the town is $35,089, and the median income for a family is $43,125. Males have a median income of $36,000 versus $23,056 for females. The per capita income for the town is $14,793. 14.6% of the population and 10.3% of families are below the poverty line. Out of the total people living in poverty, 15.8% are under the age of 18 and 12.7% are 65 or older.
The economy of Gerlach and Empire focus on gypsum mining near Empire and tourism in the nearby Black Rock Desert. For over five years, Burning Man, a week long countercultural festival with over 10,000 participants has been held nearby. Due to the appearance of the participants, local enthusiasm is mixed, but the event is responsible for over 30% of the sales in most of the commercial establishments in the area.