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People moving to North Dakota drives state’s population growth

FARGO — North Dakota’s ability to attract people to the state continues as the main driver of its population gains.

The number of people migrating to North Dakota during a recent period was more than three times the number of births over deaths, new census figures show.

Net migration from April 1, 2010, to July 1, 2013, in North Dakota totaled 38,223, according to estimates released Thursday by the U.S. Census Bureau.

That compares to a gain of 12,271 in what demographers call natural population increase, or the number of births exceeding deaths, for the period.

Almost half of North Dakota’s migration gain for the period, 18,051, occurred from July 1, 2012, to July 1, 2013, a bigger increase than in the two preceding years.

In 2011, the state had a migration gain of about 6,900, followed by 12,200 the following year, said Kevin Iverson, manager of the North Dakota Census Office.

The increases reflect the jobs and economic opportunities in North Dakota, especially compared to the weak economic conditions prevailing throughout most of the country, he said.

It’s not surprising, he added, that the population gains result more from people flocking to the state than from births, which also have increased.

“You simply don’t double the number of births that you have in an area in a given year,” Iverson said.

For years, North Dakota was plagued by outmigration, especially of young adults, a trend that has reversed in recent years due to the state’s gains in jobs and income.

There’s no way to predict how long the accelerating upswing in migration to North Dakota will continue, Iverson said.

“The only thing I ask is can you tell me the price of oil in another year,” he said.

He said it appears more of the people who have come to North Dakota to find work seem to be settling in as permanent residents, rather than as long-distance commuters.

More data will be needed to confirm that suspicion, Iverson said.

As of July 1, 2013, North Dakota’s population was estimated to be 723,393, up from 701,345 the year before. In the 2010 census count, North Dakota’s population was 672,591.

Patrick Springer

Patrick Springer first joined the reporting staff of The Forum in 1985. He can be reached by calling 701-241-5522. Have a comment to share about a story? Letters to the editor should include author’s name, address and phone number. Generally, letters should be no longer than 250 words. All letters are subject to editing. Send to