Sunday, February 15, 2009

Left to the deer, antelope (and kangaroos): South Dakota and rural Australia have some similarities

An article from Australia * could describe South Dakota, or at least parts of the Rushmore State:

Once a sawmilling town that was a gateway to forests of mountain ash and waterfalls, it has also come to embrace tourist lurks, such as arts and crafts.

Still, it sags in the wider rural malaise. No jobs for young people. The footy and tennis clubs are gone. The local CFA (volunteer fire department) boasts a tanker, a pumper and about a dozen volunteers.

Reports this weekend show South Dakota with net population growth so far this decade, but this is skewed heavily by the growth of Sioux Falls. Without the influx of folks to Minnehaha and Lincoln Counties (Sioux Falls includes parts of both), SD would have experienced
a net loss of almost 15,000 residents between 2000 and 2007.

As in the Australian example, South Dakota population declines are most pronounced in rural communities. The key factor is what the University of South Dakota calls "out migration," much of which is fueled by younger people leaving to seek jobs. This points up a conundrum: South Dakota scores high for
"economic freedom", but its rural areas suffer from a lack of economic opportunity.

*h/t Anglicans Ablaze

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