Phantom Growth

Having been raised in neighboring Minnesota, when I read that rural Hanson County, South Dakota, was the fourth-fastest-growing county in the nation, I had to ...
by | June 10, 2005

Having been raised in neighboring Minnesota, when I read that rural Hanson County, South Dakota, was the fourth-fastest-growing county in the nation, I had to find out the reason behind this startling statistic. Turns out local officials and media also were puzzled when Census numbers for 2003-04 showed Hanson's population had increased from 3,508 to 3,786. In small places, of course, it only takes a few additional bodies to generate a 7.9% growth rate, but no one was aware of an influx of new settlers.

As best anyone can figure, it's a quirk attributable to a local business called "My Home Address." The mom-and-pop shop in the little town of Emery allows roving owners of recreational vehicles to register their RVs in the low-tax/low-fee state and list Emery as their home address for mail and federal income tax filings (among the information Census uses to prepare its numbers). This is pretty amusing until you realize that the formulas to distribute federal funds for CDBG, welfare and transportation are based, in part, on Census population data. If the RV retirees ever happen to drive through Hanson County, perhaps they'll enjoy some newly paved roads.

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Anne Jordan  |  Former Editor
mailbox@governing.com  | 

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