Population Trends Summary:
Population growth slowed over the past year, yet North Dakota still experienced the highest percentage growth of all states from 2010 to 2016.
North Dakota’s counties experienced differential population change. From 2015 to 2016, core oil and gas producing counties saw population declines, reversing the trend of rapid growth from recent years. Mostly rural counties saw little change or continued the historic downward trend while metropolitan counties maintained a moderate growth.
North Dakota was one of few states with a decrease in median age in the past five years and the only state that continued to grow younger in 2015.
The recent population growth in the state has not been gender balanced, North Dakota being one of few states where males outnumber females.
Racial and ethnic diversity continued to grow in North Dakota. The increase in non-White population from 2010 to 2015 was the greatest percentage change of any state.
• After years of unprecedented growth in response to an expanding economy, North Dakota’s population remained relatively unchanged from 2015 to 2016, with a 0.1 percent increase, reaching an all-time high of 757,952 residents in 2016. While the growth rate has slowed, North Dakota had the fastest growing population of all states from 2010 to 2016 (12.7% growth).
The modest population gain in the past year can be attributed to a flattening of the birth rates and out-migration. Increasing since 2011, North Dakota’s birth rate leveled off in 2015 with the number of births decreasing slightly from 11,352 in 2014 to 11,265 in 2015. Meanwhile, compared to recent years when North Dakota had a positive net in-migration, the state experienced a larger number of people leaving than entering the state, a net out-migration of 4,684 residents (U.S. Census Bureau, 2016 Population and Housing Units Estimates).
• North Dakota’s counties experienced differential population change. From 2015 to 2016, core oil and gas producing counties saw population declines, reversing the trend of rapid growth from recent years. Mostly rural counties saw little change or continued the historic downward trend while metropolitan counties maintained moderate growth. Cass County’s population increased by 3,725 residents, three times the 1,117 residents gained by the state overall from 2015 to 2016, the largest growth in the state.
However, despite the population loss, the population in North Dakota’s oil producing counties greatly exceeded their 2010 levels with a 98 percent increase in population in McKenzie County, a 53 percent increase in Williams County, and a 29 percent increase in Stark County.
• North Dakota’s population is projected to grow 21 percent by 2029, reaching 891,268 people. However, projected growth varies regionally. Western North Dakota is projected to grow the fastest, with population in Region I increasing by 67 percent over the next 15 years and by 28 percent in Region VIII. Regions II, V, and VII are also projected to see strong growth while Region VI is projected to lose 4 percent of its population by 2029 (Hodur, N. et. al, 2016, 2016 North Dakota Statewide Housing Needs Assessment).
• 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 compared to the previous year.
• After decades of decline, the number of children and youth (under 18 years old) has grown since 2010. From 2010 to 2015, the number of children and youth increased by 24,055 reaching 173,926 in 2015. In 2015, children and youth comprised 23.0 percent of the total population in North Dakota, a slight increase from 22.3 percent in 2010.
• Increased opportunities for employment in the oil producing counties and metropolitan areas attracted new workers to the state and contributed to the increase of the working age population (age 20 to 64) from 403,179 in 2010 to 452,536 in 2015. The number of workers per retiree remained constant over the past five years in North Dakota at 4.2, but varied regionally from 6.9 in Region I and 5.0 in Region V, to 3.3 in Region III and 2.6 in Region VI.
• As a result of the aging of baby boomers (those born from 1946 through 1964), the older adult population (65 years and older) is increasing and is projected to increase 49.1 percent from 2015 to 2029. 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 (64% increase) (Hodur N. et al, 2016, 2016 North Dakota Statewide Housing Needs Assessment).
• Recent economic development attracted more men than women to the state. Therefore, the population growth in the state has not been gender balanced. From 2000 to 2015, the male population in North Dakota increased by 21.3 percent compared to a 14.4 percent increase of females. In 2015, there were 95 females in North Dakota for every 100 males, as compared to 103 females for every 100 males in the nation. However, among older adults (age 65 years and older), women outnumbered men with 121 women for every 100 men in North Dakota in 2015 (U.S. Census 2015 Population Estimates).
• The North Dakota population Of Color (i.e., non-White) increased by 7.9 percent from 2014 to 2015 and by 45.4 percent from 2010 to 2015, which is the largest percentage change of any state. However, despite the increase in the non-White population, North Dakota is less racially and ethnically diverse than most states (44th out of 50 states).
Among the racial and ethnic groups in North Dakota, the Black population experienced a 123.0 percent increase from 2010 to 2015. The Hispanic population increased 99.1 percent from 2010 to 2015. The Native American population continues to make up the largest minority population in North Dakota (41,315 residents in 2015). The Native American population as a percentage of total population in the state remained constant at 5.5 percent from 2010 to 2015, the Hispanic population increased from 2.0 percent in 2010 to 3.5 percent in 2015, and the Black population doubled from 1.2 percent in 2010 to 2.4 percent in 2015.
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 of the total population. 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 population in the state, more than 14,000 or 61.5 percent were not U.S. citizens (2015 American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates).
Out of the foreign born population in North Dakota, 17.5 percent entered before 1990, 18.2 percent entered from 1990 to 1999, 36.0 percent entered from 2000 to 2009, and 27.9 percent entered in 2010 or later, according to the 2015 American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates. According to the 2015 American Community Survey 5-year estimates, out of the foreign born population in the state, 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 were born in Northern America.
According to the Office of Refugee Resettlement, North Dakota served 527 refugees in 2015, out of which 36.1 percent were from Bhutan, 25.8 percent from Somalia, and 20.5 percent from Iraq.
Economy and Workforce Trends Summary:
Despite the decline in state revenues in 2015 due to dropping commodity prices both in the oil and gas industry and agriculture, North Dakota’s economy is substantially larger than it was 10 years ago.
With more diversified economies, metropolitan areas in North Dakota continued to grow in 2015 despite the drop in state GDP.
Jobs creation in North Dakota far outpaced national averages in the past 15 years. Employment in almost all industry sectors in North Dakota gained jobs with employment in Mining, quarrying, and oil and gas extraction sector increasing the most. However, after increasing for a number of years, the number of jobs declined 1.6 percent in 2015 as compared to the previous year.
Median household income in North Dakota continued to increase in 2015 especially in western counties.
The poverty rate decreased slightly in North Dakota in 2015 but still varies by geography and demographic characteristics.
North Dakota ranked first among all 50 states in 2015 for the percentage of adults working. Unemployment rates have decreased continually since 2009 and have been low compared to other states and the national average.
• North Dakota’s economy has grown substantially over the past 10 years. After remarkable growth from 2008 to 2014, North Dakota’s economy declined 2.1 percent in 2015, due to dropping commodity prices both in the oil and gas industry and agriculture.
Despite the slowdown, North Dakota’s real GDP in 2015 ($50.3 billion of 2009 chained dollars) was still 43.7 percent higher than the 2010 GDP, far exceeding historical trends from 1997 to 2008 if continued through 2015. The 2000-2015 real GDP compound annual growth rate was 5.5 percent in North Dakota as compared to 1.6 percent in the U.S.
The real North Dakota per capita GDP in 2015 was $66,507, 28.0 percent higher than in 2010 and 33.4 percent higher than the U.S. per capita GDP. In 2015, North Dakota ranked first among all states based on the economic output per working-age adult ($103,579) and placed second in the rank of real per capita GDP ($66,507).
Despite the decline in statewide GDP, with more diversified economies, all North Dakota’s metropolitan areas continued to grow in 2015. The Bismarck metro area’s GDP grew by 5.7 percent from 2014 to 2015. The Grand Forks metropolitan area real GDP grew by 3.0 percent and Fargo metropolitan area’s GDP increased by 1.3 percent.
Mining, quarrying, and oil and gas extraction accounted for 15.5 percent of the state’s GDP in 2015. Real estate accounted for 10.5 percent and Government for 9.7 percent.
• Since 2000, jobs creation in North Dakota far outpaced national averages. From 2010 to 2015, the number of nonfarm1jobs grew by 20.7 percent, from 376,000 in 2010 to 453,800 in 2015. However, after increasing for a number of years, the number of jobs declined 1.6 percent in 2015 as compared to the previous year.
Employment in almost all industry sectors in North Dakota gained jobs in the past 15 years. From 2000 to 2015, jobs in Mining, quarrying, and oil and gas extraction increased the most, by almost 600 percent. The industry increased its share of total jobs from 1.1 percent in 2000 to 5.3 percent in 2015. In the past year, the number of jobs in the Mining, quarrying, and oil and gas extraction sector declined 22.2 percent.
In 2015, jobs in the Government sector represented 16.0 percent of all jobs2. 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.
• Median household income in North Dakota continued to increase to $60,557 in 2015, an increase in real terms of 2.5 percent from the 2014 median household income of $59,104.The median household income varies greatly among counties, from over $80,000 in Williams and McKenzie counties to under $40,000 in Benson, Sheridan, Rolette, and Sioux.
• The poverty rate in 2015 was 11.0 percent, down 0.5 percentage points from 11.5 percent in 2014. In 2015, there were 80,170 people below the poverty level, about 2,000 people less than in 2014. By age, from 2014 to 2015, the poverty rate decreased 2 percentage points for children under 5 years old (from 16.7% to 14.7%), and 3.1 percentage points for children and youth ages 5 to 17 (from 14.0% to 10.9%). The poverty rate for people age 18 to 64 remained unchanged at 11.0 percent while the poverty rate for older adults (age 65 and older) increased slightly from 8.7 percent in 2014 to 8.9 percent in 2015.
The poverty rate varies greatly by city. Among cities with more than 2,500 residents, Dickinson is the city with the lowest poverty rate at 7.1 percent while the poverty rate in Grand Forks is the highest at 20.4 percent.
• North Dakota ranked first among all 50 states in 2015 for the percentage of adults working3, at 78.5 percent. The percentage of adults working differed by county and by racial and ethnic groups. Dickey County had the highest proportion of adults working (83.6%) and Sioux County had the lowest proportion of adults working (46.7%) in North Dakota in 2015. For the American Indian population in North Dakota, the percentage of adults working was 52.6 percent in 2015, forming the third largest employment gap between the White and American Indian population (27.7%) among all states in 2015.
• A large percentage of adults who are working is made up of parents and caretakers. In fact, 66.1 percent of children under 6 years old lived in households where all the parents were working in 2015. This percentage decreased from 68.9 percent in 2014. The percentage of school-age children for whom all parents are working increased in North Dakota from 76.4 percent in 2014 to 79.4 percent in 2015. North Dakota is the state with the fourth largest percentage of school-age children for whom all parents were working in 2015.
• Annual unemployment rates in North Dakota have been decreasing continually from 4.1 percent in 2009 to 2.7 in 2015.
The December 2016 seasonally adjusted4 unemployment rate for North Dakota was 3.0 percent, unchanged from the prior month and higher than the same period one year ago (2.7%). The nation’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was 4.7 percent for the month (Job Service North Dakota, Labor force and unemployment statistics).
1The self-employed, as well as agriculture, domestic, and military workers are excluded. Employment is defined as a count of jobs by place of work rather than a count of employed persons.
2Total jobs excluded from these statistics include proprietors and the self-employed, railroad workers, family farm workers, full-time students working for their school, elected government officials, insurance and real estate salespeople, and others who work only on a commission basis.
3The percentage of adults working is calculated as the number of employed, working-age population (16-64 years old) divided by the non-institutionalized, civilian, working age population.
4The seasonal adjustment process uses a statistical adjustment to accommodate predictable fluctuations between months such as length of daylight and typical weather. Seasonal adjustment allows for comparison between all months of a year.
Health Trends Summary:
Healthy behaviors continued to improve in North Dakota with a decrease in binge drinking among high school students from 2014 to 2015.
The percentage of adults who are obese decreased slightly in North Dakota, especially for females and people ages 25 to 34.
Diabetes rates increased slightly from 2014 to 2015 in North Dakota especially for women, low income adults, and adults with less than a high school diploma.
The percentage of people in North Dakota with disabilities was among the lowest in the country in 2015, but people in poverty were twice as likely to have a disability than people above the poverty level.
North Dakota was among the only four states in the nation where the rate of uninsured adults (under 65 years old) did not experience a relevant decrease from 2014 to 2015.
North Dakota also had the 4th highest rate of uninsured children among all states.
• Healthy behaviors begin early in life. Alcohol consumption, especially binge drinking, is a concern among high school students. Binge drinking among high school students continued to decline in North Dakota to 17.6 percent in 2015, completely closing the gap between North Dakota and the U.S. The percentage of North Dakota high school students who binge drank in the past month has been nearly cut in half since 2007 where it was 32.5 percent.
Another encouraging trend is the decrease of high school students Of Color who binge drank in the past month, from 35.6 percent in 2009 to 20.7 percent in 2013, and to 15.8 percent in 2015. The percentage of White students who binge drank also continually decreased from 30.2 percent in 2009 to 21.4 percent in 2013, and to 17.6 percent in 2015.
• Almost one-third of adults (31.0%) in North Dakota were obese in 2015, up from 27.8 percent in 2011. After increasing slowly from 2011 to 2014, the percentage of adults who are obese decreased slightly in 2015, approaching the national average of 29.8 percent and ranking 34 among all 50 states (from lowest to highest).
Male adults have consistently had higher obesity rates than females. From 2014 to 2015, the percentage of male adults who were obese remained constant while the percentage of female adults decreased slightly, from 29.5 percent to 27.1 percent.
Obesity decreased the most for the 25 to 34 age group, from 32.0 percent in 2014 to 24.8 percent in 2015; it decreased slightly for the 35-44 age group, and remained fairly constant for the other age groups.
• The diabetes rate for adults in North Dakota remained fairly constant since 2014 and slightly increased from 8.2 percent in 2011 to 8.7 percent in 2015. Nationally, North Dakota ranked 13th lowest in the nation for adults diagnosed with diabetes.
Diabetes risk increases with age. In North Dakota, older adults (age 65 and older) not only had the highest diabetes rate in 2015, but also experienced an increase in the percentage of people with diabetes from the previous year, from 19.0 percent in 2014 to 21.1 percent in 2015.
The lower the income, the higher the percentage of adults diagnosed with diabetes and the larger the increase in diabetes rate between 2014 and 2015. The percentage of adults with incomes above $50,000 decreased slightly from 6.6 percent in 2014 to 5.6 percent in 2015 while the percentage of adults with incomes below $15,000 increased from 12.2 percent in 2014 to 18.3 percent in 2015.
In 2015, the percentage of male adults with diabetes continued a decreasing trend from 2013 and leveled off at 8.5 percent. The percentage of female adults with diabetes, however, increased from 7.8 percent in 2014 to 8.9 percent in 2015.
There is also a greater incidence of diabetes among less educated adults. In North Dakota in 2015, 19.6 percent of adults diagnosed with diabetes had less than a high school diploma. This percentage was three times the percentage of those with a college degree or higher (6.3%) and an increase from 2014 when it was 13.0 percent.
• In North Dakota, 10.7 percent of people were living with one or more disabilities in 2015. This percent is lower than the national average (12.6%) and among the lowest nationwide (6th place among the 50 states).
Disability and poverty have an interdependent relationship. Disabilities can create challenges that can lead to economic hardship. People with disabilities are nearly twice as likely to have incomes below the poverty thresholds as people without disabilities in North Dakota (18.5% and 10.1%, respectively in 2015). Equally, poverty may contribute to sustaining disability by limiting access to health care and preventive services and by living in adverse environments. In North Dakota people in poverty are twice as likely to have disabilities as people above the poverty level (18.2% and 9.9%, respectively in 2015).
• While the number and percentage of residents under 65 years old without health insurance decreased between 2013 and 2014, the trend did not continue in 2015. In 2015, 8.9 percent of residents under age 65 in North Dakota lacked health insurance coverage, which is slightly lower than the national average of 10.9 percent and unchanged from the previous year. North Dakota was among the only four states in the nation that did not experience a relevant decrease in their uninsured rate. The other 46 states showed a decrease in the percentage of people without health insurance coverage in 2015.
The American Indian population under age 65 had a higher percentage of uninsured residents (32.1%) than other people Of Color (17.4%), and the White (non-Hispanic) population (8.3%) in 2015. Similarly, the people born in the U.S. had a lower percentage of uninsured residents (10.9%) than the foreign-born population (18.0%).
The percent of children and youth (under age 18) without health insurance increased in North Dakota from 6.9 percent in 2014 to 7.9 percent in 2015 (13,430 uninsured children), making North Dakota the state with the fourth highest rate of uninsured children among all states.
Education Trends Summary:
From 2014 to 2015, North Dakota made slow progress in early education by increasing the percentage of 3 and 4 year old children enrolled in preschool by 3.5 percentage points.
Achievement scores increased slightly in English Language Arts/Literacy for 3rd graders and in Math for 8th graders from 2015 to 2016.
Racial and income gaps in academic achievement continue to exist in North Dakota as related to 3rd grade English Language Arts/Literacy and 8th grade Math scores.
High school graduation rates remain constant in North Dakota but disparities by race and income remain.
The percent of adults (age 25 and older) with at least a bachelor’s degree in North Dakota increased slightly from 2014 to 2015. Differences in educational attainment exist by metropolitan status, poverty status, and gender in favor of people living in metropolitan areas, above the poverty level, and women.
• Preschool programs include organized child care programs offering educational experiences for children during the years preceding kindergarten. The percentage of 3 and 4 year olds enrolled in preschool programs in North Dakota has historically trended below the national average.
In 2015, 36.0 percent of children ages 3 and 4 were enrolled in preschool in North Dakota. Compared to 2014 when North Dakota ranked last among the 50 states, the percentage of 3 and 4 year olds enrolled in preschool in North Dakota increased 3.5 percentage points moving the State to a rank of 44; the national average was 47.6 percent. Preschool enrollment varies greatly by county, from 64.7 percent in Griggs County to 24.3 percent in Trail County, while data for 15 counties is suppressed due to a low number of cases recorded during the time period.
• In 2014-2015 school year, North Dakota Department of Public Instruction implemented new state assessment tests based on Common Core Standards. Therefore, 2015 and 2016 scores cannot be compared to previous years.
The percentage of students meeting or exceeding standards in 3rd grade English Language Arts/Literacy slightly increased from 46.9 percent in 2015 to 50.4 percent in 2016. The percentage of students meeting or exceeding standards in 8th grade math slightly increased as well, from 34.7 percent in 2015 to 35.6 percent in 2016.
Racial and income gaps continue to exist in academic achievement in North Dakota. In 2016, 55.3 percent of White North Dakota 3rd graders met or exceeded the 3rd grade English Language Art standards, compared to 39.1 percent of students Of Color (Asian, Black, or Hispanic), and to 35 percent of lower-income students1.
In middle school, 35.6 percent of all North Dakota 8th graders met or exceeded the 8th grade math standards compared to 21.4 percent of students Of Color and 18.6 percent of lower-income students, in 2016.
• High school graduation rates in North Dakota have been relatively constant at about 86 percent over the past seven years. The racial gap between White (non-Hispanic) and non-White students in graduation rates widened in 2015 as compared to the previous year, with 90.5 percent of White students, 75.7 percent of students Of Color, and 59.7 percent of American Indian students graduating on time.
There was a 22.1 percentage point gap between graduation rates of lower-income students and moderate- and higher-income students in 2015, and the gap has widened since 2010.
• The percent of adults (age 25 and older) with at least a bachelor’s degree in North Dakota increased slightly from 27.4 percent in 2014 to 29.1 percent in 2015. North Dakota ranked 15th best in the nation for the percentage of younger adults age 25-34 (35.6%) with a bachelor’s degree or higher in 2015, and 27th best for percentage of adults age 25 and older (29.1%) with the same qualifications in 2015.
About one third of adults who live in metropolitan areas (34.1%) in North Dakota held a bachelor’s degree or higher in 2015 as compared to 21.8 percent of adults living in non-metropolitan areas.
Since 2007, women in North Dakota have been more likely than men to have a bachelor’s degree or higher. This trend continued in 2015 with 31.9 percent of women and 26.5 percent of men holding a bachelor’s degree or higher.
The gap in educational attainment by poverty status widened in 2015 in North Dakota. About one third of adults age 25 and older (31.2%) who live above the poverty level had a bachelor’s degree or higher as compared to 11.1 percent of adults living below the poverty level in 2015.
1Income categories are based on enrollment in free or reduced price lunch. "Lower-income students" include those enrolled in free or reduced price lunch. "Moderate- and Higher-income students" are those not enrolled in free or reduced price lunch.
Check out our 2017 Compass Points - includes notable trends, key demographics, and a dashboard look at measures of progress for 10 topic areas.