The sky is falling! The sky is falling! The population is declining! (“Rural SD quietly shrinking,” Feb. 10)
This has been the mantra for decades, and for decades it has been correct. The same acreage that three family farms worked just 50 years ago is now farmed by one. The need for labor in the ag community will continue to shrink. That is a dynamic that we all understand, bemoan and talk to death.
I beg to differ with the premise that there is no turning in our future. I believe the turn has already happened. The 2010 census is a look at 2000 through 2010. It is not a snapshot of 2010. In 2000, there was no real cellphone service, there was no high-speed Internet, there were no tablets. There were no jobs and people left. That dynamic has changed.
What technology taketh away, technology giveth. More and more people are working from home, and as they do, they realize that "home" can be anywhere. They are moving out from the big cities like New York and Los Angeles and into cities like Sioux Falls. Many are taking the additional step and moving to towns and communities surrounding places like Aberdeen. This shift started in the second half of the last decade.
Consider also that the economy is weak on both coasts and in the south, very weak — depression weak. There is an out-migration from where the economy is poor to where the jobs are — frankly, here. People are moving from the coasts to the middle, it is the Dust Bowl days in reverse. The ability to find a good job and an affordable cost of living gets them looking, the people and quality of that living brings them in.
Aberdeen is close to becoming a boomtown; Northville already is. I know of new houses in many of our small towns. The paradigm has shifted. I believe that the 2020 census will reflect rural growth.