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Oil boom helps make ND's Williams County the fastest growing in US but Cass tops ND in sheer numbers gain

Williams County led the nation in growth among counties of 20,000 population or more between 2010 and 2018. Cass County showed the largest population growth in sheer numbers among the state's counties between 2017 and 2018, gaining 3,579 new residents. Special to The Forum

FARGO — Numbers recently released by the U.S. Census Bureau show Williams County in North Dakota led the nation in growth rate between July 2017 and July 2018 when its population jumped by 5.9%.

Census numbers show Williams County's population grew from 33,395 residents to 35,350 residents, a gain of 1,955.

The Census Bureau said Williams County also led the nation in growth among counties of 20,000 population or more between 2010 and 2018, when its population grew 57.8 percent, largely due to oil boom activity.

Cass County, meanwhile, showed the largest population growth in sheer numbers among the state's counties between 2017 and 2018, gaining 3,579 new residents and reflecting a growth rate of 2%.

In second place was Williams County, which saw 1,955 new residents during the same period.

Statewide, North Dakota's overall population grew by 4,901 residents between 2017 and 2018.

According to the new Census estimates, the Fargo metro area grew 1.6% from 2017 to 2018, going from 241,619 to 245,471, an increase of 3,852 residents. The Fargo metro area is defined by the Census Bureau as including all of Cass County and Minnesota's Clay County.

The Census estimates show Cass County's population went from 177,937 in 2017 to 181,516 in 2018.

During the same one-year period, the population of Clay County grew from 63,682 to 63,955, a gain of 273 residents, or a 0.4 percent bump.

The Census Bureau numbers also show that Hubbard County was one of three counties in Minnesota with the highest growth rate between 2017 and 2018 with 1.6%.

Hubbard's population grew from 21,001 to 21,332, an increase of 331 people.

The other two Minnesota counties with 1.6% growth rates were Sherburne and Wright, both located between St. Cloud and the Twin Cities.

The Minnesota county with the greatest percentage of decline in population between 2017 and 2018 was Norman County, which saw a drop of 1.7%, from 6,585 to 6,475 — or 110 residents.

The North Dakota county with the largest population drop during the same period was Renville County in north central North Dakota, which saw a 3.5% decline, going from 2,459 residents to 2,374, a loss of 85 residents.

Across the nation, the new figures indicate that metro areas that are not among the most populous nonetheless rank in the top 10 for population growth over the past 10 years, particularly Phoenix, Seattle, Austin, Texas, and Orlando, Fla.

"This trend is consistent with the overall growth we are seeing in the south and the west," Sandra Johnson, a demographer in the Census Bureau's Population Division, said in a summary of the new Census estimates on the Census Bureau's website.