Population still growing in ND, Upper Midwest

The Upper Midwest saw positive population growth over the previous year, but the pace of growth has slowed for several states.

The 2020 census will determine whether Minnesota and Wisconsin will retain eight seats each in the U.S. House of Representatives. U.S. Census Bureau photo
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BISMARCK — Minnesota, Wisconsin and the Dakotas were among the 40 states that saw a population increase between July 2018 and July 2019, according to U.S. Census Bureau estimates.

North Dakota's population reached an estimated all-time high of about 762,000 residents, up nearly 4,000 from the previous year. The state has added almost 90,000 residents since the 2010 census, and only five other states have experienced a higher rate of growth in the decade. Most of the growth came during western North Dakota's oil boom between 2010 and 2015.

North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum said the growth "reflects the abundant opportunities in North Dakota and the strong potential for future economic expansion."

Minnesota saw considerably more growth than other high-population Midwestern states, with about 33,000 new residents over the previous year. Still, the 2019 figure marks the slowest rate of growth in the last three years.


South Dakota gained 6,000 new residents between July 2018 and July 2019, putting its total population at an all-time high of nearly 885,000. Like its northern counterpart, the state has experienced significant growth since the beginning of the decade with about 70,000 residents added.

Wisconsin saw less growth than Minnesota with about 15,000 new residents, but both states fared better than Michigan, which gained only about 3,000, and Illinois, which lost more than 50,000 people, according to the estimates. Overall, Wisconsin has gained about 135,000 residents since the beginning of the decade.

Some states are closely eyeing their population figures as the 2020 census approaches because representation in Congress could be on the line. The official headcount will determine whether Minnesota and Wisconsin retain eight seats each in the U.S. House of Representatives or lose one to higher growth states like Texas and Florida. Barring significant population boosts over the next year, the Dakotas will stay at one seat each, but neighboring Montana may pick up a second seat.

Jeremy Turley is a Bismarck-based reporter for Forum News Service, which provides news coverage to publications owned by Forum Communications Company.
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