Data highlight

AUGUST 1, 2018

Increased diversity in North Dakota’s child population

While North Dakota is less racially and ethnically diverse than most states (44th out of 50 states in 2017), minority populations are increasing at much larger rates than the state’s white non-Hispanic population, creating an increasingly more diverse state. Out of all age groups, children are the most racially and ethnically diverse.

The Native American children (ages 0 to 17) comprises the largest minority child population in North Dakota (9% in 2017). While increasing in number (from 13,457 in 2010 to 15,510 in 2017), the percentage of Native American children remained relatively unchanged from 2010 to 2017.

Comprising 10 percent of North Dakota's children in 2017, children identified as Black, Asian, and of two or more races almost doubled from 9,812 children in 2010 to 17,961 children in 2017. Among these racial groups, the Black child population experienced the largest increase from 2,780 in 2010 to 7,131 in 2017 (157% increase). The Asian child population doubled from 1,326 in 2010 to 2,692 in 2017, and those who are identified as two or more races increased by 43 percent (from 5,706 in 2010 to 8,138 in 2017).

Per US Census Bureau classification, Hispanic origin (also known as ethnicity) can be viewed as the heritage, nationality, lineage, or country of birth of the person or the person’s parents or ancestors before arriving in the United States. People who identify as Hispanic, Latino, or Spanish may be of any race. In North Dakota, the number of children who are ethnically Hispanic doubled from 5,403 in 2010 to 10,969 in 2017.

Race and ethnicity have important implications for the overall well-being of children. Children of different races and ethnicities often show large variation in health, mortality, school performance, and access to family and community resources.


JULY 15, 2018

North Dakota’s counties experienced differential population change from 2016 to 2017

According to the 2017 U.S. Census Bureau’s Population Estimates, after years of continuous growth, North Dakota lost 155 people from 2016 to 2017. While most of the counties lost population in the past year, a few counties continued to grow. Cass County tops the population growth ranking with a gain of 3,162 people, followed by Burleigh (601), Grand Forks (199), Morton (181) and McKenzie (118). Oliver County leads the counties in percentage growth with a 2.2 percentage increase in population from 2016 to 2017, followed by Cass (1.8%) and Benson, Eddy, and Nelson (1.2%).

Out of the 53 counties, 34 lost population from 2016 to 2017. Ward led the counties in population decline with a loss of 1,207 people, followed by Williams (846), Stark (647), Barnes (195), and Mercer (172). Hettinger led the counties in percentage decline, with a 4.5 percentage loss. Burke and Divide also lost over 4 percent of their population from 2016 to 2017 (4.3% and 4.2%, respectively).

Although the overall trend is a slight decline in population in all areas of the state with the largest declines in the west, most metropolitan counties remained strong and saw an increase in population.


JULY 1, 2018

The age structure in North Dakota is changing

Understanding the distribution of various age groups in a population is important for community development. For instance, a top-heavy age distribution (i.e., an older population) in a community suggests an aging of the population, which may cause implications for economic development, workforce, and service programming. A bottom-heavy distribution (i.e., much younger population) suggests potential for growth, but also an increased need for jobs, housing, childcare, and education.

Due to two main trends in North Dakota, both the bottom and the top of the age distribution saw changes from 2000 to 2017. The bottom half of the age distribution saw an increase in the number of young children (0 to 4 years old) and an increase in the number of young adults (20 to 34 years old). The 0 to 4 age group increased by 37 percent from 39,400 in 2000 to 54,043 in 2017. The 20 to 34 years old population saw a 41 percent increase from 127,390 in 2000 to 179,144 in 2017.  This change was influenced by an increase in the number of births coupled with an influx of young people to the state due to North Dakota’s energy development.

The aging of the baby boom generation, those born from 1946 to 1964, influenced the top of the age distribution, with an increase of population age 50 and older. Specifically, the 50-64 year olds grew by 51 percent, from 91,428 in 2000 to 138,139 in 2017.

These changes bring both opportunities and challenges which could have consequences for the society and the economy. Understanding the age structure of a community is essential to plan for services like schools, housing, healthcare, and transportation.


June 15, 2018

A larger proportion of the foreign born population lacks health insurance compared to the native born population in North Dakota.

In the U.S. health insurance is the best way to ensure access to health care. Uninsured individuals are less likely to receive preventive care or care for routine medical conditions and injuries. Lack of preventive health care and lack of treatment for medical conditions can lead to more serious illnesses and health problems. This in turn, can result in preventable hospitalizations and deaths. North Dakota ranks middle of the pack (21st lowest uninsured rate) among states in the U.S. with an uninsured rate of 8 percent, which is a slightly lower rate than the U.S. rate of 10 percent.

According to the American Community Survey 5-year estimates, in 2016, 24,364 foreign born people, those who were not U.S. citizens at birth, lived in North Dakota, of which 22,537 were younger than 65 years old. Nearly one in four North Dakota foreign born residents (younger than 65 years old) were uninsured (22.9%) in 2016, which equates to 4,967 foreign born residents. In comparison, one in 10 native born residents lacked health insurance (10.1% or 60,319 residents).

The lack of health care coverage affects everyone in a community. Those without health insurance feel the direct physical, mental, and financial effects of not having health care coverage, while the insured are affected indirectly through higher health care premiums and higher taxes.

 Note: The foreign born population includes people who were not U.S. citizens at birth. It excludes people born in the United States, Puerto Rico, or U.S. Island Areas; as well as those born in a foreign country who had at least one parent who was a U.S. citizen.

Individuals without health insurance are those who, at the time of the survey, lacked comprehensive health coverage through: a current or former employer or union; insurance purchased directly from an insurance company; Medicare, Medicaid, Medical Assistance, or any kind of government-assistance plan for those with low incomes or a disability; TRICARE or other military health care; or VA (including those who have ever used or enrolled for VA health care). Note that coverage solely by the Indian Health Service (IHS) does NOT count as health insurance; i.e., people who were only covered by IHS in the previous year are counted as uninsured.


June 1, 2018

Newly released GDP data indicate movement in the right direction for North Dakota’s economy.

A strong economy can help revitalize communities, encourage business investment, and provide employment opportunities for a competitive workforce at all skill levels. A measure of economy is gross domestic product (GDP), which is the measure of the market value of all final goods and services produced by labor and property located in a specific region.

From 2000 to 2017 North Dakota ranked first among the 50 states with the fastest rate of real compound annual growth of GDP at 4.7 percent. Oregon ranked second with a growth rate of 2.9 percent. In addition, North Dakota’s economy is substantially larger than it was 10 years ago.

Despite this seemingly positive economic outlook, North Dakota’s economy was hit with decline in state revenues in 2015 and 2016 due to dropping commodity prices both in the oil and gas industry and agriculture, which contributed to negative annual changes in real GDP in both 2015 and 2016

Newly released GDP data indicate movement in the right direction for North Dakota’s economy. In 2017, the annual change in real GDP increased by 1 percent from the previous year. This change is an improvement compared to the past two years when the annual change in real GDP decreased by 2.5 percent in 2015 and decreased by 4.9 percent in 2016.

Note: “Real” values are inflation-adjusted statistics—that is, they exclude the effects of price changes. The statistics of real GDP by state are prepared in chained (2009) dollars. 


May 15, 2018

Racial and ethnic diversity in North Dakota increased since 2010.

In 2016, North Dakota was the 7th least racially and ethnically diverse state in the U.S. with the population of color (i.e., non-White) accounting for 15 percent of the population. However, the North Dakota population of color (i.e., non-White) increased by more than half (53.5%) from 2010 to 2016, which equates to nearly 40,000 people.

Among the racial and ethnic groups in North Dakota, the Black population experienced the largest increase from 8,248 in 2010 to 22,356 in 2016 (171%). The Hispanic population doubled from 13,467 in 2010 to 27,538 in 2016 (104.5%), followed by the Asian population that increased by approximately 4,500 people, from 7,032 to 11,561, a 64 percentage increase.

The American Indian population, the largest minority population in North Dakota, increased by 13 percent from 2010 to 2016, from 36,948 to 41,596.


May 1, 2018

Disability rates in North Dakota were slightly higher for males than females in all age groups in 2016.

Disability is an overarching term and therefore hard to define. A variety of professionals and organizations use the term disability, but in a variety of contexts. Numerous disabilities can be identified as falling under the categories of health, physical, learning, psychological, and other cognitive impairments. Some people are born with a disability, while others develop them as they age or have them as a result of an injury or illness. People with disabilities may require interventions to remove environmental or social barriers. Disability does not imply an illness or the incapacity to learn, work, or perform a task.

In North Dakota, 12 percent of people were living with one or more disabilities in 2016. This percent is slightly lower than the national average (13%) and among the lowest among states (11th lowest percentage among the 50 states).

The percentage of people with disabilities increases with age, from 6 percent in the 5-17 age group to 75 percent in the population age 85 and older. By gender, the percentage of male with disabilities is slightly higher than the percentage of female with disabilities for all age groups, especially for children age 5 to 17 and older adults age 75 to 84.

By understanding the population with disabilities, community leaders can better align services to meet upcoming and/or current needs of the community.  


April 15, 2018

Poverty rate in North Dakota is lower than the national average but varies greatly by county.

Poverty refers to a state in which an individual lacks the monetary resources to afford basic human needs, such as clean water, nutrition, health care, education, clothing, and/or shelter. The lack of these resources makes it difficult to reach a minimum standard of living or wellbeing deemed acceptable by society. The Census Bureau uses income thresholds, which vary by family size and composition, to determine who is in poverty. If a family's total income is less than the family's threshold, then that family and every individual in it is considered to be living in poverty. Income thresholds are updated annually by the U.S. Census Bureau.

The poverty rate in North Dakota in 2016 was 10.7 percent, down 2.4 percentage points from 13.1 percent in 2010, and lower than the national average of 14.0 percent. In 2016 North Dakota had the 10th lowest poverty rate among the 50 states.

While all but six counties in North Dakota had a poverty rate lower than the national average and more than half of the counties (32) had poverty rates lower than the state’s average, there are large differences in poverty rates among counties. The county with the lowest estimated poverty rate was Mercer at 6.6 percent. Other North Dakota counties with an estimated poverty rate under 8 percent include Williams, Burleigh, Sargent, and McKenzie. There are three counties, however, where more than one quarter of the population was below the poverty level in 2016: Rolette (26.7%), Benson (29.4%), and Sioux (35.3%).

In 2016, the federal poverty threshold for a household of two adults and two children was about $24,339. 


April 1, 2018

Homeownership rate decreased for all income groups in North Dakota from 2000 to 2016.

Homeownership has been a significant part of the American Dream. Owning a home provides an important source of stability for children and their families and is a measure of financial security. Communities also benefit from high rates of homeownership. Residents who own their homes, in general, feel more rooted, take greater pride in the appearance of their homes, and have greater positive involvement with the community. Access to homeownership is a factor of the availability of affordable housing inventory as well as household income levels.

While the overall homeownership rate in North Dakota slightly increased from 61.7 percent in 2015 to 63.2 percent in 2016, when compared to 2000, the homeownership rate saw a 3 percentage point decrease (from 66.6% to 63.2%). Changes in the homeownership rate are partially influenced by changes in demographic characteristics of the population such as age, race and ethnicity, education, family status, and income.

In general, higher household incomes increase the opportunity to own a home. While the median household income* increased in North Dakota from $49,850 in 1999 to $60,656 in 2016, the homeownership rate decreased for each income group from 2000 to 2016. The largest decreases in homeownership were for householders with a household income from $35,000 to $74,999. Changes in government policy and housing market conditions and demographic characteristics potentially contributed to the decline of the homeownership rate for each income category and the increasing income disparity gaps in the homeownership rate.

*Median household income is adjusted for the effects of inflation or deflation (i.e., in 2016 dollars).



March 15, 2018

Volunteer participation for Generation X - highest of all generations in North Dakota.

Volunteering is a form of civic engagement that brings significant benefits to individuals and communities. Volunteers are important community assets, helping to enrich the lives of those they serve and often providing care and services that neither government nor the private sector can afford to provide on their own.

Among the 50 states, North Dakota ranked 7th highest in volunteer participation of residents age 16 and older, at 32.0 percent in 2015. North Dakota’s volunteer rate was 7 percentage points higher than the U.S. rate of 24.9 percent in the same year.

Volunteerism differs among age groups. When looking at generations (i.e., people born and living at about the same time), volunteer participation for Generation X was the highest among all generations at 38.9 percent. Generation X’s rate was nearly 5 percentage points higher than the next highest rate among the generations (Baby Boomers 34.1%) and nearly 14 percentage points higher than the lowest rate among the generations (Millennials 25.2%).

Note: There are no official cutoff points defining the span of a generation; however, general cohort approximations include: Millennials (those born between 1982 and 1996); Generation X (those born between 1965 and 1982); Baby Boomers (those born between 1946 and 1964); and the Greatest and Silent generation (those born between 1928 and 1946).


March 1, 2018

The percentage of young children for whom all parents are working increased overall in North Dakota, but varies greatly among counties.

Parental employment is extremely important in regards to the future of a child. It is directly linked to increases in family income, a decrease in poverty, and a higher likelihood of children having access to health care. The percentage of young children (under 6 years old) for whom all parents are working increased in North Dakota from 66.1 percent in 2015 to 73.5 percent in 2016 and is higher than the national average at 65.5 percent.

However, parental employment varies greatly by county. Almost all young children in Griggs (98.7%) and Divide (95.5%) counties have all parents working, while less than 1 in 3 children (30.1%) in Sheridan County have all parents employed in the labor force.

When all parents in the household are working, access to quality child care, which influences children's overall development, becomes an important consideration and possible necessity for a family.

Note: All parents are working if both mother and father are employed in the labor force in married-couple families, or if a child's mother or father is employed in the labor force in single-parent families. Excluded from the employed are people whose only activity consisted of work around the house or unpaid volunteer work for religious, charitable, and similar organizations; also excluded are all institutionalized people and people on active duty in the United States Armed Forces.


FEBRUARY 15, 2018

Diabetes rates for those at most risk decreased in North Dakota in 2016.

In North Dakota 8.6 percent of adults (age 18 and older) had diabetes in 2016. The diabetes rate for adults in North Dakota remained fairly constant since 2011 and was lower than the national average of 10.5 percent in 2016. However, population groups at highest risk for diabetes (i.e., older adults, people living in very low income households, and American Indian population) saw a decrease in the diabetes rates from 2015 to 2016.

In 2016, older adults (age 65 and older) had the highest diabetes rate at 18.8 percent followed progressively by lower rates for younger age groups. Although having the highest diabetes rate among all age groups, older adults in North Dakota experienced a decrease in the percentage of people with diabetes from 21.1 percent in 2015 to 18.8 percent in 2016. The diabetes rate remained fairly constant for most other age groups from 2015 to 2016.

The lower the household income, the higher the percentage of adults diagnosed with diabetes. However, the percentage of adults with the lowest incomes (incomes below $15,000) who have diagnosed diabetes decreased from 18.3 percent in 2015 to 13.9 percent in 2016.

American Indian adults are almost twice as likely to have been diagnosed with diabetes as non-Hispanic white adults (15.4% and 8.5%, respectively in 2016). Although higher, the percentage of American Indian adults diagnosed with diabetes decreased from 24.0 percent in 2015 to 15.4 percent in 2016.


FEBRUARY 1, 2018

North Dakota adults are attaining higher levels of education compared to 2000.

Educational attainment refers to the highest level of education completed (e.g., a high school diploma, a bachelor's degree, or a master's degree). In 2016, approximately 9 in 10 adults (age 25 and older) had at least a high school diploma or GED (92.4%), and  nearly 1 in 3 of adults (29.6%) had a bachelor’s degree or higher. About 8 percent of adults had less than high school education.

When comparing to 2000, educational attainment increased in North Dakota. The percentage of adults with less than high school education decreased from 16.1 percent in 2000 to 7.6 percent in 2016 while the percentage of residents with an associate’s degree or higher increased during the same time period from 31.4 percent to 43.2 percent.


JANUARY 1, 2018

Recently released population estimates shows North Dakota’s population holds steady.

After years of continuous growth, North Dakota’s population remained relatively unchanged from 2015 to 2017 reaching a total of 755,393 residents in 2017. Although the population held steady over the last two years, North Dakota had a 12.3 percent growth from 2010 to 2017 which is the second fastest population growth of all states during this time period.

The modest population change over the past two years can be attributed to the stabilizing of the birth rates and also out-migration. Increasing since 2011, North Dakota’s birth rate started to level off in 2015 with the number of births slightly decreasing from 11,404 in 2015 to 11,282 in 2016, and 11,064 in 2017.

Over the past two years North Dakota experienced a larger number of people leaving than entering the state, a negative net migration of 4,684 residents in 2016 and 5,164 residents in 2017 which is in contrast to the previous years when North Dakota had more people entering than leaving the state (U.S. Census Bureau, 2017 Population and Housing Unit Estimates).

Note: Net migration = number of people who enter the state (in-migration) minus the number of people who leave the state (out-migration); Natural change = Number of births minus number of deaths; Total population change = Net migration + Natural change


DECEMBER 15, 2017

North Dakota homeownership rate starts to rebound in 2016.

After a decade of stability, the homeownership rate in North Dakota slightly decreased year to year from 2010 to 2015 and reached a low of 61.7 percent in 2015. However, the homeownership rate increased to 63.2 percent in 2016 with 5,866 more homeowner households than in 2015.

Nationwide, North Dakota ranked 40th in 2016 for the percent of housing occupants who owned their homes (rank of one being the highest percentage). North Dakota’s relatively low rate of homeownership is partially due to the large influx of young adults into the state, especially between the years 2010 and 2015, as they are more likely to rent than to own a home. In general, the homeownership rate is lower for younger age groups and increases with age up to age 75. While only one in six young householders (age 24 and younger) owned a home in 2016, one in two householders in the 25 to 34 age group owned a home. The homeownership rate continues to increase to 80 percent for householders age 65 to 74.

Compared to 2000, homeownership rates slightly increased for the age groups with the lowest homeownership rates (34 years old or younger and 75 years old and older) and decreased for householders in the groups that fell between the ages of 35 ad 74, with the largest decrease in the 45 to 54 age group (a 10 percentage point decrease).


DECEMBER 1, 2017

The educational attainment gap between adults living above and below the poverty level continued to widen in 2016 in North Dakota.

Since 2000, North Dakota’s percentage of adults (age 25 and older) holding a bachelor’s degree or higher has been slightly behind the national average. In 2016, North Dakota ranked 27th among the 50 states, with 29.6 percent of adults (age 25 and older) holding at least a bachelor’s degree.
However, while almost one-third of adults (31.8%) who live above the poverty level held a bachelor’s degree or higher, only one in 10 adults (10.1%) below the poverty level attained this education level. There has always been a gap in educational attainment by poverty status, but the gap widened further in 2016.


NOVEMBER 15, 2017

In North Dakota, obesity increased in nearly all age groups since 2011.

In 2016, obesity was most prevalent in middle age. Adults age 45-54 had the highest obesity rate at 38.3 percent, followed by the 55-64 age group at 36.0 percent, and the 35-44 age group at 35.5 percent. The group with the lowest obesity rate was the 18-24 age group at 17.7 percent.
When comparing obesity rates from 2011 to 2016, the pattern of obesity by age remains the same with obesity increasing as people get older and decreasing after they reach middle age. Obesity rates for most adult age groups increased with the largest increase (about 7 percentage points) being in the youngest adult (age 18 to 24) and older adult (age 65 and older) age groups. Middle age adults also saw a 4 percentage point increase in obesity rates.


NOVEMBER 1, 2017

Racial diversity in North Dakota has not grown consistently among age groups.

Over the last year (2015 to 2016), North Dakota’s population of color (i.e., Native American, Black, Asian, Hispanic, two or more races) increased by 4.6 percent. From 2010 to 2016, North Dakota’s population of color dramatically increased by 53.5 percent, which is the highest rate of any state (for comparison, U.S. population of color increased by 12.3 percent for the same time period.
However, racial diversity has not grown consistently among age groups; the younger the age group, the more diverse the population. One in four young children (0 to 4 years old) is a person of color (24.9%) as compared to 1 in 20 in the 65-84 age group (4.7%), and 1 in 50 for people age 85 and older (2.2%).

The growth in diversity of younger age groups is explained in part by the increase in the number of births belonging to a group of color and decrease in the number of White, non-Hispanic births. From 2015 to 2016, the number of births for White, non-Hispanic population decreased 4.0 percent, while the number of births for population of color increased 18.1 percent.


October 16, 2017

With more diversified economies, Fargo and Grand Forks metropolitan areas continued to grow in 2016 despite the drop in state GDP.

North Dakota’s economy has grown substantially over the past 10 years. After remarkable growth from 2006 to 2014, North Dakota’s economy contracted 3.1 percent in 2015 and 6.5 percent in 2016, due to dropping commodity prices both in the oil and gas industry and agriculture.

Despite the decline in statewide Gross Domestic Product (GDP), with more diversified economies, North Dakota’s metro areas continued to grow in 2015, and Fargo and Grand Forks continued the growth in 2016. From 2015 to 2016, the Grand Forks metro area real GDP grew by 3.1 percent and Fargo metro area’s GDP increased by 2.3 percent while Bismarck’s GDP decreased by 4.1 percent.


October 2, 2017

North Dakota ranks first in the nation for the share of cost-burdened households, but 1 in 10 households pay more than half of their income for housing.

A household is considered housing cost-burdened when 30 percent or more of its monthly gross income is dedicated to housing costs, including the cost of utilities. North Dakota ranked 1st in the country with the lowest percentage of households whose housing costs exceed the threshold of affordability, at 23 percent, in 2016. However, 10 percent of households pay more than half of their income on housing.  The share of cost-burdened households increased by two percentage points from 1999 to 2016. Housing costs are more of a burden for renters than homeowners. Forty percent of renters in North Dakota use 30 percent or more of their income towards housing costs, while 13 percent of home owners are housing cost-burdened. Households paying a large share of their income on housing are likely to struggle to pay for other basic needs, forcing difficult trade-offs. They may have to make decisions that may result in poorer outcomes in other areas of well-being, such as dropping health care coverage or skipping meals to save on costs.


September 15, 2017

The number and percentage of babies born at low birth weight to teenage mothers increased in North Dakota in 2016 while the number of teen births continued to decrease

The percentage of babies born at low birth weight overall in North Dakota slightly increased from 6.1 percent in 2015 to 6.7 percent in 2016. Teenage mothers (under 20 years old) saw the largest increase in the percentage of babies born at low birth weight, from 6.5 percent in 2015 to 8.2 percent in 2016. A baby's birth weight indicates both the mother's health and nutritional status, and her baby's chances for growth, overall development, and long-term health. Babies born weighing under 5 pounds, 8 ounces are considered to have a low birth weight, which carries a range of health risks, including a weakened immune system, reduced muscle strength, decreased cognitive and social development, and a higher incidence of diabetes and heart disease in later life.

On a positive note, the number of teen births decreased from 527 in 2015 to 473 in 2016. The number of children born to mothers under 20 years old has been on a downward trend since 1990 in North Dakota and the U.S. Despite the decline, attention should continue to be given to the teen birth rate and especially to disparities with respect to location, race, and ethnicity.


September 1, 2017

Households headed by single mothers with dependent children were most likely to be in poverty in North Dakota in 2015

In 2015 there were 80,170 people living below the poverty level in North Dakota, 2,094 less than in 2014. Poverty refers to a state in which an individual lacks the monetary resources to afford basic human needs, such as clean water, nutrition, health care, education, clothing, and/or shelter. The lack of these resources makes it difficult to reach a minimum standard of living or wellbeing deemed acceptable by society.
At the household level, households headed by single mothers with dependent children were more likely to be in poverty (33.1%) than single male-headed households with children (23.0%) and much more likely to live in poverty than households headed by married couples with children (3.3%). The family’s economic situation has important implications especially when children are present. Children in an impoverished family experience disadvantages that influence not only the children’s life but also the communities in which they live (Child Poverty in North Dakota).

Note: The official poverty rate reported by the Census Bureau measures the percentage of the U.S. population with total income below the federal poverty threshold for their family size (e.g., $24,036 in 2015 for a family of four with two children). “Income” is calculated before taxes and includes only cash income, such as earnings, pension income, investment income, social security, unemployment benefits, and child support payments. Other federal and state benefits that help support low-income families such as Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits, tax benefits (e.g., Earned Income Tax Credit, Child Tax Credit) and housing subsidies are not counted as income under the official poverty measure.

August 15, 2017

The aging of North Dakota's population may pose workforce challenges in the future

There were 109,999 older adults (65 years of age and older) in North Dakota in 2016, representing 15 percent of the total population, a percentage almost unchanged since 2010. With the aging of the baby boom generation (the large cohort of people born between 1946 and 1964), the share of older adults in the state’s population is expected to increase to 18 percent by 2029. Conversely, the share of the working-age population (age 20-64) is projected to decline from 59 percent of the total population in 2016 to 55 percent in 2029.
These demographic changes will potentially reduce the number of workers in relation to the population needing support. Even with the influx of more working-age people into the state, the ratio is projected to decrease from 4.1 working-age adults to every one older adult in 2016 to 3.1 working-age adults per every older adult by 2029. This information is helpful for individuals, organizations, and policy makers to plan ahead for services, programs, and policies to minimize the impact of the aging population on labor force participation in the state.

July 31, 2017

North Dakota’s child population continues to grow but at a slower rate.

After decades of continuous loss from 1960 to the late 2000s, the number of children (under 18 years old) in North Dakota has grown consistently since 2008, by approximately 3 percent annually through 2015. However, similar to the overall population trend, the child population growth slowed in 2016. Reaching a population of 176,311 in 2016, children (under 18 years old) accounted for 23 percent of North Dakota’s total population.   
From 2010 to 2016 the number of children (under 18 years old) in North Dakota increased by more than 26,000, or 18 percent, while the number of children in the U.S. decreased by one percent during the same time period. Specifically, young children in both the 0-4 and 5-9 age groups experienced the largest percent growth with a 24 percent increase, while the 15-17 age group saw little growth (2%) from 2010 to 2016.


July 17, 2017

Racial gaps in high school graduation rates shrunk in North Dakota in 2016

While overall rates showed a slight improvement over the last year, the percent of students graduating on time in North Dakota have remained fairly steady during the past 8 years, between 85 and 87 percent. However, racial gaps in the high school graduation rate continue to persist in North Dakota. In 2016, 65.2 percent of American Indians students and 79.7 percent students of color graduated on-time, compared to 90.8 percent of White (non-Hispanic) students.
Although gaps persist, the racial gaps are shrinking. Between 2015 and 2016, the high school graduation rate increased 5.5 percentage points for American Indian students and 4.0 percentage points for other students of color.
It is important to monitor progress in narrowing the gaps and improving results of education. In addition to achievement indicators, high school graduation can be useful in predicting young adults’ preparation for higher education and/or the workforce.
Note: The four-year graduation rate is calculated by dividing the number of students who graduate in four years or less with a regular high school diploma by the number of students who form the adjusted cohort for that graduating class. The adjusted cohort is a total count of first-time 9th graders in the fall of their freshman year, plus students who transfer into the cohort, minus students who transfer out of the cohort, emigrate, or die during the four school years of high school.



July 1, 2017

While still the fourth youngest state in the nation, North Dakota grew older in 2016

The population in most states has increasingly become older. The increase in the median age (the age where half of the population is younger and the other half older) is a result of the aging of the baby-boom generation, those born between 1946 and 1964. The median age in the U.S. steadily increased from 35.3 in 2000 to 37.2 in 2010 and to 37.9 in 2016.

However, North Dakota was one of the few states who reversed this trend. For five years, North Dakota’s population had been growing younger as the median age continually decreased from 37.0 in 2010 to 34.6 in 2015. While the median age increased to 34.8 in 2016, North Dakota was still the fourth youngest state out of the 50 states in the nation with only Texas, Alaska, and Utah having a younger median age.


June 20, 2017

Change in trends in North Dakota voter turnout by race.

Nearly 350,000 North Dakota residents (of voting-age) voted in the 2016 presidential election. In 2016, the voting-age turnout* was 61 percent in North Dakota, a rate similar to 2012, but lower than the 65 percent rate in 2008. In the 2016 election, the voting-age turnout was higher in North Dakota (61%) than the U.S. (55%).
Similar to the U.S., the trends of voter turnout in a presidential election by race reversed in 2016 as the voter turnout for the White (non-Hispanic) population slightly increased, while the turnout for the non-White population decreased. Specifically, the voter turnout for the American Indian population dropped from 71 percent in 2008 to 46 percent in 2012 and to 24 percent in 2016. The other population of color voter turnout also saw a decline of 15 percentage points in 2016 compared to the previous presidential election.

* Voting-age turnout is calculated by dividing the total number of voters (ballots cast) by the estimated voting-age population of age 18 and older


June 2, 2017

Employment in almost all industry sectors in North Dakota gained jobs in the past 15 years.

A shortage of jobs increases unemployment, reduces tax revenues, and curtails economic growth. In North Dakota, employment in almost all industry sectors, relating to nonfarm positions, gained jobs in the past 15 years. From 2000 to 2015, jobs in the Mining, quarrying, and oil and gas extraction industry increased substantially by nearly 600 percent. The industry increased its share of total jobs from 1.1 percent in 2000 to 5.3 percent in 2015. The next largest increase in jobs was in the Transportation and warehousing industry (157% increase) followed by Construction industry (116% increase). Although the number of jobs in the Mining, quarrying, and oil and gas extraction sector grew dramatically in the past, recent data indicate that the sector declined 22.2 percent from 2014 to 2015.
When looking at the share of jobs by industry (relating to nonfarm positions), in 2015, the Government sector represented the largest share of jobs in North Dakota (16.0%). Jobs in Education/Health (i.e., Educational services and Health care and social assistance) represented 13.5 percent and jobs in the Retail sector, 11.6 percent. Jobs in Natural resources/mining (i.e., Agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting and Mining, quarrying, and oil and gas extraction) represented 6.3 percent of all jobs.

View topic: ECONOMY / JOBS

May 15, 2017

Fargo and West Fargo lead the cities in foreign born residents

City of Fargo had the highest percentage of foreign born residents at 7.5 percent and 4.8 percent of the residents of West Fargo were foreign born.

In 2015 the Census Bureau estimated that there were nearly 23,000 residents in North Dakota who were foreign born, accounting for 3.2 percent. This includes U.S. naturalized citizens and those individuals who are not U.S. citizens, but does not include those born in Puerto Rico or the U.S. Island areas or those born to American parents abroad. Out of the foreign born, over 14,000 or 61.5 percent were not U.S. citizens (2015 American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates). Out of the foreign born population, 36.7 percent were born in Asia, 19.3 percent in Africa, 16.5 percent in Europe, 14.9 percent in Latin America, and 12.0 percent in Northern America.


May 1, 2017

Ground-level ozone was the peak air pollutant in most days in 2016 in North Dakota

The Air Quality Index (AQI), measures five of the main pollutants regulated by the Clean Air Act for each day of the year. Days are rated as "Good," "Moderate," "Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups," or "Unhealthy" based upon the amount of pollutants in the air.

In 2016, the AQI was “Good” in 90 percent of days or more, in eight of the ten North Dakota counties that have sites that monitor air pollutants.

Ground-level ozone was the peak air pollutant (i.e., the pollutant responsible for the highest daily index value) for most days in 2016 for all metropolitan and micropolitan areas with air quality monitors. For Dickinson micropolitan area (Stark county), ground-level ozone was the main pollutant in 349/365 days in 2016. Fine particulates was the main pollutant in Bismarck metropolitan area (Burleigh, Morton, Oliver and Sioux counties) in 166/365 days in 2016. Ground-level ozone, commonly known as smog, and particle pollution pose the greatest known health risks to humans.


April 13, 2017

Generation X leads volunteering among generations in North Dakota in 2015

Volunteering is a form of civic engagement that brings significant benefits to individuals and communities. Volunteers are important community assets, helping to enrich the lives of those they serve and often providing care and services that neither government nor the private sector can afford to provide on their own. The percent of North Dakota’s residents (age 16 and older) who volunteer has consistently been higher than the U.S. average; 32 percent in North Dakota as compared to 25 percent in the U.S. in 2015.

In the past decade, the volunteering patterns changed for different generations of volunteers. The percentage of residents who volunteered belonging to the Greatest and Silent Generations (those born before 1946) and to the Baby Boomers (born between 1946 and 1964) decreased from 2005 to 2015. In contrast, the percentage of volunteers belonging to the Generation X (born between 1965 and 1981) increased from 31 percent in 2005 to 39 percent in 2015, taking the lead of all generations in 2015. Millennials (born 1982 or after) also saw an increase in volunteering between 2010 and 2015.


April 1, 2017

Growth rate has slowed for the majority of North Dakota’s counties.

North Dakota reached an all-time high of 757,952 residents in 2016, but after years of unprecedented growth in response to an expanding economy, North Dakota’s population remained relatively unchanged from 2015 to 2016. Similar to the state overall, counties have seen a slowing or more of a decline in population. Formerly booming with growth, the majority of core oil producing counties have reversed their population change and the rate declined when comparing 2015 and 2016. The number of counties that had a decline in population from 2015 to 2016 doubled from the previous year (27 counties compared to 13 counties, respectively). Eight counties grew from 2015 to 2016; five of these counties were metropolitan counties.


March 15, 2017

Although North Dakota showed slight improvement, the state still ranks 7th lowest in the nation with regard to children enrolled in preschool.

Early learning experiences are essential for a child's healthy intellectual, social, and emotional development. These experiences help create a foundation for children to be successful students and eventually productive adults. In 2015, nationally, 47.6 percent of children ages 3 and 4 were enrolled in preschool (i.e., organized child care programs offering educational experiences for children during the years preceding kindergarten – including Head Start). In North Dakota, 36 percent of children ages 3 and 4 were enrolled in preschool programs in 2015, placing North Dakota seventh lowest among the 50 states. However, the percent of North Dakota children enrolled in preschool slightly increased from the previous year when it was 32.5 percent, which gave the state the second lowest national place ranking.


March 1, 2017

While North Dakota is getting younger, some counties continue to age.

In 2015, North Dakota continued to get younger as the median age decreased from 34.9 years in 2014 to 34.6 in 2015. In 2015, North Dakota was the fourth youngest state in the nation and the only state with a decrease in median age when compared to the previous year.

Despite this state-wide trend, the median age in 38 counties was at least 40 years and in 9 counties the median age was at least 50 years. Increased opportunities for employment in the oil producing counties and metro areas attracted younger workers to the state and contributed to the decrease in the median age in those areas. In contrast, mostly rural counties continued the historic aging trend.

However, all counties are going to be influenced by the increase in the older adult population (age 65 and older) as the baby boomers (those born from 1946 through 1964) continue to age. As a result of this, the older adult population is projected to increase by 49.1 percent over the next 14 years, from 107,281 in 2015 to 159,969 in 2029 – a projected growth two to five times greater than that of the other age groups.


February 15, 2017

The higher the income, the lower the percentage of adults diagnosed with diabetes.

The diabetes rate for adults in North Dakota remained fairly constant since 2014 and increased slightly from 8.2 percent in 2011 to 8.7 percent in 2015. Nationally, North Dakota ranked 13th lowest among states for adults diagnosed with diabetes. Diabetes rates increased slightly from 2014 to 2015 in North Dakota for women, low income adults, and adults with less than a high school diploma.

The higher the income, the lower the percentage of adults diagnosed with diabetes. The percentage of adults with incomes of $50,000 or more who have diabetes decreased slightly from 6.6 percent in 2014 to 5.6 percent in 2015, while the percentage of adults with incomes below $15,000 who have diabetes increased from 12.2 percent in 2014 to 18.3 percent in 2015.


February 1, 2017

Older adults in North Dakota have modest income levels as compared to the other age groups.

In the last five years, the median household income in North Dakota has been increasing and has been trending above the national median income. However, some population groups are more vulnerable than others. The median income of older households (householders age 65 and older), at $36,971 in North Dakota in 2015, was well below the overall median household income ($60,557) and less than half of the households headed by a person age 45 to 64 ($75,780). Attention should be given to this age group as the older adult population (65 years and older) is increasing and will continue to increase, according to the latest population projections. With 97,477 older adults in 2010 and 107,281 in 2015, the older adult population is projected to increase to 159,969 by 2029. This growth would represent a 64 percent increase from 2010 and will constitute an important shift in the age distribution of North Dakota’s population.


North Dakota Compass

Center for Social Research
North Dakota State University

Compass created by:
Wilder Research

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