Data highlight

JUNE 1, 2020

Ambulatory and hearing are the most common disabilities in older adults in North Dakota.

One in three people age 65 and older in North Dakota have at least one disability, according to data collected by the U.S. Census Bureau, American Community Survey (ACS). Although disability is not an inevitable consequence of aging, with increasing age, disabilities become more common due to compounding health related concerns, such as chronic diseases.

Of the 36,832 older adults in North Dakota who have some form of disability, 62 percent of them report difficulty in walking or climbing which is counted as ambulatory disability. The older adults who report having an ambulatory disability represent 21% of the civilian non-institutionalized population of age 65 and older.

Of the 36,832 older adults in North Dakota who have some form of disability, 62 percent of them report difficulty in walking or climbing which is counted as ambulatory disability. The older adults who report having an ambulatory disability represent 21% of the civilian non-institutionalized population of age 65 and older.

Serious difficulty hearing is the second-most cited disability (17% of the civilian, non-institutionalized population age 65 and older), followed by difficulty with independent living – doing errands alone such as visiting a doctor’s office or shopping (11%), serious difficulty seeing (7%), cognitive difficulty (6%), and difficulty taking care of themselves such as bathing or dressing (5%).

These types of disabilities in older adults vary by county. This data visualization shows the variation of disability rate by type and by county. Understanding the older adult population with disabilities allows communities to better align services to meet upcoming and/or current needs and can also help older adults to maximize their independence and utilize their talents and abilities.


MAY 1, 2020

As the pandemic is affecting the most vulnerable members of our communities, it is now especially important to consider how much the poverty rate in North Dakota varies by county.

According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), some socioeconomic and environmental factors (e.g., poverty, lack of medical insurance, lack of access to transportation or nutritious food) are among risk factors regarding the novel COVID-19, since they could potentially contribute to an increased risk of people becoming sick or recover from an illness.

Under the current conditions, when most communities are impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, it is very important to consider areas with people in poverty since they are more likely to work in jobs with a high risk to exposure, live in insecure housing, lack health insurance, and live in areas with less access to health care.

In North Dakota, about one in ten people are considered to live below the poverty level (10.7 percent , 2018 data). 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. While there are different approaches to measuring poverty in the United States, the official poverty measure uses a set of income thresholds that are the same across the United States but vary by family size and composition and are adjusted annually for changes in the cost of living*. North Dakota’s poverty rate is lower than the United States’ poverty rate of 13.1 percent and ranks North Dakota 11th (from lowest to highest rate) among the 50 states.

By county, poverty rates in North Dakota range from 6.5 percent in Williams County to 32.9 percent in Sioux County, with eight counties having a poverty rate above the national average. Compared to 2010, poverty estimates appear to have decreased in the majority of the counties. However, a more in-depth examination revealed that with the exception of two counties (Grant Forks and McKenzie) the decrease of the poverty rate is not statistically significant, meaning that the change may be attributed to chance alone. Therefore, data such as these should be examined more thoroughly so the policy makers and community and social service organizations can better understand, target, and serve populations at risk and impacted by COVID-19 throughout North Dakota.

*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., $25,926 in 2019 for a family of four people 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.


APRIL 1, 2020

North Dakota ranks 19 among the 50 states (from lowest to highest rate) in youth obesity rate.

The national obesity rate for youth, ages 10 to 17, was 15.3 percent, according to the most recent data from the National Survey of Children’s Health (2017 and 2018 data combined). Children and youth are considered obese if they have a Body Mass Index (BMI) at or above the 95th percentile for children and youth of the same age and sex. Nationwide, the obesity rate ranged from 8.7 percent in Utah to 25.4 percent in Mississippi, North Dakota ranking 19th (from lowest to highest obesity rate) among the 50 states.

In North Dakota 8,482 youth (ages 10-17) are obese. This represents 13.4 percent of the youth population in this age group. In addition, another 8,714 youth are overweight, referring to those who have a BMI of 85th percentile to 94th percentile (13.7%). The obesity rate in North Dakota is lower than the national rate, but the difference is not statistically significant.

According to the World Health Organization, obesity can be prevented by healthy eating and regular physical activity. North Dakota implemented a number of policies to prevent obesity in children and youth. Some of these are programs that allow and encourage breastfeeding, programs that make drinking water available to children, healthy eating policies, and policies that require physical education for elementary, middle school and high school students.


MARCH 1, 2020

Housing costs are more of a burden for renters than homeowners.

North Dakota ranked 1st in the country with the lowest percentage of households who are housing cost-burdened (i.e., 30 percent or more of the household’s monthly gross income is dedicated to housing costs), at 23 percent, in 2018. Housing costs are substantially more of a burden for renters than homeowners. Thirty-nine percent of renters in North Dakota use 30 percent or more of their income towards housing costs, while 14 percent of home owners are housing cost-burdened. While the percentage of housing cost-burdened homeowners has decreased over the past decade from 19 percent to 14 percent, the percentage of cost-burdened renters has stayed the same. Moreover, there were about 11,000 more cost-burdened renter households in 2018 than in 2008 (a 35% increase from 31,533 in 2008 to 42,491 in 2018).

Households paying a large share of their income on housing are likely to struggle to pay for other basic needs, forcing difficult trade-offs. When more than 30 percent of household income goes towards rent or mortgage payments, people 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.


FEBRUARY 1, 2020

North Dakota leads all states in percentage increase in child population over the past 10 years.

North Dakota’s child population (ages 0 through 17) has changed dramatically during the past 10 years, reversing a decades-long downward trend. The change is due to an increase in the number of births along with in-migration of young families into the state.

After decreasing for many decades, the current growth, which began in 2008, has brought the number of children back to levels not seen since 1990 in North Dakota. From 2010 to 2019, the total child population grew an average of 2.1 percent per year, reaching 180,171 children in 2019, according to the most recent population estimates (U.S. Census Bureau, Population and Housing Unit Estimates, Vintage 2019). Although the pace of growth slowed down after 2015, from 2010 to 2019 North Dakota still had the highest percentage increase of children among 50 states (a 20.2% increase), gaining 30,300 children during this time frame.


JANUARY 1, 2020

Most historically disadvantaged students showed progress in the on-time high school graduation rate, in North Dakota, in the past five years.

The on-time high school graduation rate is one of the indicators that measure students’ progress towards readiness for college and the workforce 

The high school graduation rate overall has been fairly steady the past few years in North Dakota, increasing slightly by 1.3 percentage points from 2014 to 2019. In 2019, 88.3 percent of public high school students graduated on time (i.e., in four years after starting 9th grade for the first time).

Compared to 2014, most student groups saw an increase in on-time high school graduation rate. Among them, Native American students led the progress with a 7.6 percentage point increase in the graduation rate from 2014 to 2019. The graduation rate for black students increased 4.4 percentage points, while the graduation rate for Hispanic students decreased slightly by 0.7 percentage points. Among other groups, the graduation rate increased by 5.3 percentage points for low income students, 4.7 percentage points for English learners, and 4.0 percentage points for students with disabilities.

While progress for the most historically disadvantaged student groups is notable, gaps remain considerable in 2019. Compared to students overall, there is a 16.0 percentage point gap for Native American students; 15.9 percentage point gap for English learners; 14.9 percentage point gap for students with disabilities; and 11.7 percentage point gap for low-income students.

Continued support is needed across the education continuum to sustain progress and continue to reduce the gaps.


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