Butte County - Demographics & Population
Butte County's population as of July 1, 2012 was 10,228 residents, according to estimates by the U.S. Census. This total reflected a 1.2 percent inccrease since April 1, 2010. The county's residents share 2,248 square miles with approixmately 64,000 cattle. The population density of 4.5 persons per square mile is among the lowest in the nation, and over half the population (5,658) lives in the county seat of Belle Fourche. Butte County's population rose 11.2 percent to 10,110 between 2000 and 2010, according to the U.S. Census. The rate of population growth in the county (11.2 percent) exceeded the rate for the state (7.9 percent).
Butte County is predominantly white, accounting for 94.7 percent of the population of Butte County. The remaining 6 percent is comprised mostly of Native Americans and Hispanics.The presence of Lakota natives has declined to less than two percent of the population in recent decades. At the same time, the local Hispanic population has grown to over 3 percent.
Butte County’s poverty rate is exactly the same as the statewide poverty rate of 14.2 percent. Butte County has the highest home ownership rate in the seven-county region with about 77.2 percent of households being owner-occupied. Despite this, Butte County also has the lowest per capita income ($38,085) in the region with the exception of Shannon County. According to the South Dakota Kids Count project, the estimated percentage of children under the age of 18 in poverty has hovered around 21 percent since 2005.
Throughout the Great Plains, rural counties have lost population in the last fifty years, but despite declining as a hub of the national cattle economy, Butte County actually gained 1,000 new residents between the 2000 census and the 2010 census. The growth has been almost entirely in the city of Belle Fourche, which has grown as a service center for outlying ranches and a bedroom community for nearby Spearfish, which is only twelve miles away.
In 1959, the United States Coast and Geodetic Survey designated Butte County as the geographic center of the United States. The “center of the nation” had been located in Lebanon, Kansas until Alaska and Hawaii were admitted to the union, and the center shifted north and west to a spot twenty miles north of Belle Fourche. A historical marker memorializes this spot.
Looking for Census information on demographics and housing in your neighborhood? The Federal Financial Institutions Council, an agency of the federal government, provides a site where you can enter your street address and access census data about your neighborhood.
For more data and graphs on the demographics of South Dakota and the Black Hills, please check out our interactive graphs and charts.