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Census Numbers Have Many Meanings

December 27, 2010, 9:52 PM by Shawn Neisteadt

Census Numbers Have Many Meanings
SIOUX FALLS, SD - You may not notice it but your surroundings are changing.

The Federal Government is releasing details about what they found earlier this year when every household was polled to find the most up-to-date information about who lives where. They've found the nation now has a population that surpasses 308,000,000 people. More than 800,000 of those live in South Dakota.

Over the last ten years, the population of the nation's heartland has grown by about four percent. But South Dakota is growing at a faster pace, with a population increase of 7.9 percent giving the Rushmore State a current population of 814,180 people.

That seems like an impressively large number, but just like ten years ago, South Dakota's population is 46th in the nation. Only North Dakota, Alaska, Vermont and Wyoming have fewer residents, ranking 47th through 50th, respectively.

When it comes to open spaces, the latest census shows South Dakota also has plenty of that ranked 48th in population density. Using the size of the state and the number of people living there, South Dakota has a population density of 10.7 people per square mile.

The most densely populated state is New Jersey. With a population of 8.7 million people, 1,195 people live per square mile in the garden

On the opposite end of the spectrum is Wyoming. The state population of less than 600,000 people gives the state a density of just less than six people per square mile.

The numbers are important for many reasons beyond just determining the number of representatives each state has in congress. The population numbers also determine more than $300 billion per year in federal funding to states. The numbers released now by the census bureau are the tip of the iceberg. More detailed numbers released in the coming months will give a better look into several categories, ranging from minority populations to average income and poverty of states.

Minnesota's population grew by 7.8 percent to 5.3 million people. Iowa is growing at a slower pace, up just 4.1 percent to three million people.

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