Here's some potentially good news for Madison and Lake County... assuming you think bigger is better. According to Census Bureau estimates, from April 2010 to July 2011, Lake County was the fourth-fastest growing county in South Dakota. During that time, Lake County grew 3.3%, adding 367 people to reach a total of 11,567. That's still 850 shy of our peak population of 12,412 in 1940.
Oddly, Lake County had babies at a slower rate and died at a faster rate than the state as a whole. The driver of Lake County's spike last year was net migration. We led the state in drawing more people than we chased away, with net migration adding 2.5% to our population, compared to a state rate for the fifteen months studied of 0.3%. 277 more people moved here than moved out. (If anyone can tell me where they all go to work and shop, let me know!)
Compare Lake County's net migration to Minnehaha's comparable number: 341. But Minnehaha made babies faster and died less than the state rates, so even Minnehaha came out growing a little faster than the rest of the state.
In South Dakota, 43 counties gained population; 23 lost. Governing maps the data for all counties nationwide:
The map shows above-average growth scattered among mostly rural counties. The two somewhat "urban" counties that make our top ten are Lincoln and Pennington.
Nationwide, Governing notes that population growth is accelerating in urban areas. The national rate of growth was 0.92%. Two-thirds of cities over 100,000 beat that rate, and only 19 of those 277 cities lost population. If the cities are getting faster, that means Sarah Palin's "Real America" is fading faster than she wants to admit.
And in this morning's wild speculation, I say that means Mitt Romney picks city boy Rob Portman over country boy John Thune as his running mate.