A one-person town in Nebraska doubled in size, according to the 2020 Census — even though no new residents moved in.
The claim that Monowi’s population had exploded to two puzzled the town’s lone resident Elsie Eiler, who is reportedly also the mayor, and runs a tavern where she issues her own liquor license.
“Well, then someone’s been hiding from me, and there’s nowhere to live but my house,” Eiler, 87, told the Lincoln Journal Star. “But if you find out who he is, let me know?”
Turns out officials added the extra resident from a different Census block or tract to protect the confidentiality of people who participate, a spokeswoman told the newspaper.
“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 said. “It protects the privacy of the respondent and the confidentiality of the data they provide.”
The practice doesn’t alter Census data on the larger scale but is obvious in situations where a town’s population can be counted on one hand, the newspaper reported.
Monowi had two residents until 2004 when Eiler’s husband, Rudy, the town librarian, died, according to WQOW.