According to the 2020 Census, a one-person town in Nebraska doubled its population despite no new inhabitants moving in.
According to a census spokeswoman, the extra individual was invented by an algorithm for information security concerns.
“What you’re seeing there is the noise we add to the data so you can’t figure out who is living there,” the spokeswoman explained. “It protects the privacy of the respondent and the confidentiality of the data they provide.”
On a larger scale, the practice does not affect Census data, but it is evident in cases where a town’s inhabitants may be estimated on the fingers of one hand.
Elsie Eiler, the town’s sole citizen who is also the mayor and manages a bar where she grants herself a liquor license, was surprised by the statement that Monowi’s population had swelled to two.
“Well, then someone’s been hiding from me, and there’s nowhere to live but my house,” Eiler, 87, said according to the New York Post. “But if you find out who he is, let me know?”
The accuracy of the statistics has been questioned since the unreal inhabitant was relocated from a different census block.
Maybe it appears weird at a local level in a town with a total area of 0.21 square miles, but zoom out a little, and it’s realistic, according to the census bureau.
“We take the same number of people, but we move them around,” the spokeswoman explained. “When you look at it all the way out, it’s correct.”
Before Eiler’s spouse, Rudy, the town librarian, passed away in 2004, Monowi had only two citizens.
In Monowi, America’s smallest town, Eiler is the only resident, so she holds the positions of mayor, town council, clerk, treasurer, library, and bartender.
Eiler’s son and a daughter moved out of town after both of them graduated from high school. According to the Independent, a bachelor lived in town for a time before moving away after his house burned down.
Eiler pays the town’s taxes every year to keep the water supply switched on and the street lights lit. She also applies for a liquor license for herself.
“When I apply to the state for my liquor and tobacco licenses each year, they send them to the secretary of the village, which is me,” she recalled.
“So, I get them as the secretary, sign them as the clerk and give them to myself as the bar owner,” Eiler went on to say.
When the Elkhorn Railroad was operated in the 1930s, Monowi had a population of 150 people. The nearest town to Eiler is 6.92 miles distant.