Buffalo County: Socio-Economic Research

Various resources like jobs, institutions and land among others, in nations, states and counties are vital elements that drive societies in those areas whereby conducting a census can reveal a clearer picture of how those areas grow, or lack of it. Growing up in Buffalo County in South Dakota, one could obviously see how dejected the place was not only just by looking at the lack of major buildings and institutions but also by how people carried themselves in their daily lives. Many people could be seen congregating together in relation to their races especially the American Indians, who formed tight communities in the society while the others, more or less, minded their businesses, considering that they were the minorities. Moreover, the number of people loitering around what one would consider the major towns, which are more of congregated communities than towns or cities, gave you the impression that finding a job was an uphill task for many adults. This paper details various socio-economic differences between Buffalo and Loudon (Virginia) Counties as well as a comparison with the nation’s socio-economic data which indicate reduced opportunities for Buffalo residents to empower themselves in relation to education, the economy and overall daily living.

Buffalo/Loudon/USA: Socio-Economic Differences
The racial composition in Buffalo County rests at over 80 percent American Indians and 16 percent whites which is contrary to Loudon’ and the nation’s statistics as indicated at the end of this paper. With regards to economic prosperity, it is well known that the American Indians represent one of the major marginalized minority communities, whose access to economic opportunities are drastically reduced. Even though many reasons are to blame for this, the lack of federal government support cannot be disregarded especially in relation to job opportunities. Indeed, the family income of Buffalo County residents, highlights over 40 percent earning less than $10,000 and less than one percent earning over $100,000, with the figures reversed for Loudon’s. The national figures also indicate a better picture, which implies that economic opportunities for Buffalo residents are highly reduced as well as the chances of living a comfortable life. This is despite the economy being supported by both men and women which means that the discrepancies involve job opportunities or the nature of the job held by the residents. The increased economic opportunities and ability to live comfortably for Loudon residents is highlighted by the over 35 percent increase in population growth as they can support more family members compared to Buffalo residents who recorded an approximate 10 percent increase. Nationally and Loudon’s family composition at 23 and 36 percent respectively, also highlight increased economic opportunities compared to Buffalo’s 21 percent.

However, the population change is a bit dramatic considering the economic hardship inn Buffalo even though national statistics indicate a lesser figure. The hardships can be traced to other variables such as educational background and family composition where Buffalo residents with a bachelor’s degree represent only 4 percent of the population compared to over 30 percent for Loudon. Even at a national level, those with a bachelor’s degree range at 15 percent even though Buffalo has tried its best to produce high school graduates at 33 percent even though those without a high school diploma are at a shocking 27 percent. Buffalo also features over 18 percent female-headed households which, considering the 15 percent population below 15 years (dependents) shows further cause for hardships. Loudon shows 12 percent under 15 years of age while nationally is 10 percent which, considering other economic data, means that those people are able to support themselves better compared to Buffalo residents. Furthermore, poverty levels with regards to age distribution highlight Buffalo residents at 18 years and above having an over 30 percent poverty level compared to Loudon’s at less than 3 percent and nationally at less than 8 percent. Despite the grim picture, over 80 percent of the residents are able to converse in English even for Loudon residents as well as nationally, even though the other minority racial groups especially the Asians do not understand English very well. This is important because these people also contribute to the county’s economy and if their English is poor, job opportunities may also be greatly reduced.

Drawing from the discussion above and the statistical figures presented, it is evident that Buffalo residents, in comparison to Loudon’s as well as at a national level, have reduced opportunities for empowering themselves in relation to education, the economy and overall daily living. The education statistics as well as those of family income present a worrying picture that the county will continue to face hardships for some time to come especially due to the glaring poverty levels that must be addressed, internally and externally, in a bid to empower the Buffalo community. The ability to converse in English presents a unifying factor or force that can be leveraged to ensure that the community rises out of poverty with the help of the federal government, while drawing lessons from the activities, practices and processes of other counties.

Census Data

Population Characteristics South Dakota (Buffalo County) Virginia (Loudon County) USA
Population growth % change
1990-2000 -2.01% 49.98% 9.78%
2000-2010 15.52% 96.91% 13.15%
Racial composition (2000-10)
White 16.34% 79.58% 69.13%
American Indian/ Eskimo 80.71% 0.18% 0.74%
Others Below 3% 20.24% 30.13%
Family income
Less $10,000 44.81% 2.07% 9.54%
$25,000 – $35,000 12.31% 5.44% 12.81%
More $100,000 0.96% 22.69% 7.72%
Male 52.42% 53.93% 53.26%
Female 47.58% 46.07% 46.74%
Education (2000-10)
High school-no diploma 27% 4.64% 12.05%
High school graduate 33.65% 17.67% 28.63%
Bachelors 4.22% 31.95% 15.54%
Family Composition (2000-10)
Nuclear family 21.86% 36.58% 23.55%
Female-headed (children) 18.44% 4.95% 7.17%
Age Distribution
Below 15 yrs 15.61% 12.85% 10.45%
Language (able to speak English) 87.38% 85.01% 82.11%
Unable (Asians) 100% 44.16% 54.13%
(In)Poverty (2000-10)
18-64 yrs 28.11% 1.67% 6.89%
65 yrs & above 3.16% 0.25% 1.20%