South Dakota is getting older, but not as fast as the rest of the country. Governing reports on new Census data showing that, from 2010 to 2012, the number of South Dakotans aged 65 and over increased by 4.8%, while our general population grew 2.4%. Nationwide, the 65+ population swelled 7.1%, while general population grew 1.7%.
Governing provides a splendid interactive map of aging trends by county. Here's how things look in South Dakota:
See Lake County in the dark green? The median age in Lake County went from 39.9 in 2010 to 41.4 in 2011 to 42.8 in 2012. According to the Census Bureau, Lake County's 2011–2012 increase was the highest for any county in the U.S.
We thus have statistical proof that living in Lake County makes you get old faster. However, that doesn't mean Lake County has the highest median age. That distinction is shared by Campbell, Custer, and Fall River counties, where the half the population is older than 51.6. Youngest counties: Shannon and Todd, where half the population is younger than 23.9, followed closely by Buffalo County (24.1). Note that in our biggest university counties, the median ages are 26.5 (Brookings) and 27.1 (Clay).
Campaigners, if you're looking to cash in on the strongly anti-GOP youth vote, your pickings are slim in South Dakota. 16 of South Dakota's 66 counties have median ages lower than the national median age of 37.4—the above five, plus Bennett, Ziebach, Dewey, Corson, Jackson, Mellette, Meade, Lyman, Pennington, Lincoln, and Minnehaha. We'd expect Dems to have strength in the Sioux Falls metro, around SDSU and USD, and in Indian Country. But watch that youth vote in the Rapid City–Sturgis metroplex—there's a youth vote to be mobilized there, too.
My take is lots of older folks headed for the warmer climes to live, (but continue to vote in SD).
So much for my plan to "age-out" the knee-jerk Republican juggernaut.
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