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Lake County Population Spikes; Urban Counties Grow Faster than Rural

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:

2011 Census estimates of county population growth, U.S. lower 48
2011 Census estimates of county population growth, U.S. lower 48. Data from U.S. Census, interactive map from Governing. Click to embiggen!

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.


  1. Mark 2012.06.30

    Are there signicant numbers of commuters to Sioux Falls?

    Also, for my two-cents worth: Rob Portman would be more of the "mild" rather than "wild" speculation.

  2. D.E. Bishop 2012.06.30

    Urban population trends are interesting. Cities like Mpls and StP are growing, while surrounding suburbs are losing population. Young adults don't want to drive an hour to work. They want to live in the city, and walk out their door to work, dining, entertainment, etc. They want to jump on their bike to go a few miles. I am surprised at the number of people who use bike transportation year round. Yes, even in the worst of winter.

    Those people in their 20s-30s have been saying that in surveys. The building boom here is in MSP, not the 'burbs. Tall apartment/condo buildings are going up in the downtowns. Hmmm. Not so good for conservatives who usually rule the 'burbs. Their base is shrinking. Good. Very good.

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