Census: N.D. population grew 1.7 percent in a yearStrong growth in the Oil Patch and many of North Dakota’s largest communities helped the state’s population climb 1.7 percent since 2010, according to newly released U.S. Census Bureau estimates. The Williston area at the core of the Oil Patch was the fastest growing micropolitan area in the country and Dickinson and Minot made the top 10 list.
By: By Ryan Johnson , Forum Communications Co., The Jamestown Sun
Strong growth in the Oil Patch and many of North Dakota’s largest communities helped the state’s population climb 1.7 percent since 2010, according to newly released U.S. Census Bureau estimates.
The Williston area at the core of the Oil Patch was the fastest growing micropolitan area in the country and Dickinson and Minot made the top 10 list.
Overall, the state’s population increased 11,341 since the official decennial Census count on April 1, 2010 to a total of 683,932 by July 1, 2011.
But that same growth did not happen in northeastern North Dakota, and the population of the Grand Forks metropolitan area that includes Grand Forks and Polk counties actually dropped 0.4 percent since 2010 to a total of resident count of 98,054 in 2011.
The new estimates show 151 immigrants moved to the Grand Forks area in that time, and the metro area posted 1,591 births — well above the 1,009 deaths. Still, an outmigration of more than 1,100 led to a net decrease of residents.
That is a stark contrast to Bismarck, which ranked 41st in the nation’s 50 fastest growing metropolitan areas with a 1.9 percent increase since 2010 in Burleigh and Morton counties. Fargo also got bigger, with the metropolitan area that includes Cass and Clay counties gaining 3,394 residents for a 1.3 percent increase to a total population of 212,171 in 2011.
Nelson County suffered the biggest drop in the northeast since 2010, with its population declining by 2.2 percent to a 2011 total of 3,057. Cavalier and Pembina counties had population decreases of more than 1 percent, and Walsh County’s resident count dropped 0.8 percent.
That same downward trend was observed in the 2010 decennial census counts, which showed Cavalier County’s population had declined 17.3 percent since 2000 and nearly all other northeastern counties had experienced a population drop over the past decade.
Oil Patch boom
The overall population increase in North Dakota from 2010 to 2011 was driven by aggressive growth rates in the Oil Patch, including an 8.8 percent population increase in the Williston micropolitan area that includes Williams County — making it the fastest growing micro area in the country.
Dickinson boasted the nation’s fourth fastest growth for a micropolitan area, which is defined as an area containing at least one urban cluster of 10,000 but less than 50,000. Stark and Billings counties, which comprise the Dickinson micropolitan, saw a 4 percent population increase, with a 2011 total of 25,993 residents.
The Minot micropolitan area, which includes Ward, Renville and McHenry counties, ranked eighth in the nation with a 3.6 percent increase to 72,067 residents.
Williams County was the nation’s third fastest growing county with an 8.8 percent increase, Stark County ranked 20th with its 4 percent increase and Ward County ranked 25th with a 3.9 percent increase.
Rod Backman, chairman of the North Dakota Census Committee, said in a Thursday statement that the population increases were expected given the state’s booming economy and workforce.
“There is a difference however between resident population and those who are here only temporarily and view their home residence in another state,” he said. “This is especially important in western North Dakota where town sizes are rapidly increasing and that growth does not seem to be captured in the census figures.”
Ryan Johnson is a reporter
at the Grand Forks Herald, which is owned by Forum Communications Co.