Data highlight

July 1, 2022

In the past year, North Dakota cities experienced growth in some metropolitan areas and loss in the western part of the state.

Cities in areas around Fargo and Bismark in North Dakota experienced the largest population growth from July 1, 2020 to July 1, 2021, according to new population estimates for cities and towns, recently released by the U.S. Census Bureau.

Among North Dakota cities with a population of 2,500 people or more, the cities of Fargo, West Fargo and Horace collectively gained 1,600 people in the past year (from July 2020 to July 2021) and Bismarck, Mandan and Lincoln jointly increased population by 732. The fastest-growing city in North Dakota by percent change was Horace with a 6.7 percent increase in population. Conversely, continued outmigration from western counties due to a downturn in the oil industry, led to population loss in the western part of the state. Williston lost 1,949 people, and Dickinson, Minot and Watford City also lost population in the past year (604 people, 517 people and 376 people, respectively).


1. Please note that this data highlight compares population increase from July 1, 2020 to July 1,  2021. Data in the charts on ND Compass compare population increase from April 1, 2020 (Decennial Census data) to July 1st 2021 (Population estimates).
2. Click here or on the picture for an interactive view.


June 1, 2022

Compared to 2011, obesity rates increased for the youngest and oldest North Dakota adults. .

Obesity increases the likelihood of diabetes, cardiovascular disease, certain forms of cancer, hypertension, and other chronic diseases. Obesity poses a major threat in all countries of the world, the United States included.

Since 2011, the North Dakota adult obesity rate has trended above the national average. In 2011, 27.8 percent of North Dakota’s adults (age 18 and older) were obese, ranking North Dakota 25th among the 50 states (rankings from 1st - lowest rate to 50th - highest). Seven years later, in 2018, the adult obesity rate rose to 35.1 percent, ranking North Dakota 36th among the 50 states. In 2020, North Dakota ranked 29th among the 50 states with a rate of 33.1 percent, which is about 9 percentage points higher than 1st ranked Colorado. 

Looking specifically at adult age group categories, in 2020 obesity was most prevalent in middle aged adults. Adults age 45-54 had the highest obesity rate at 39.3 percent, followed by the 35-44 age group at 37.2 percent and the 55-64 age group at 36.5 percent. The group with the lowest obesity rate was the 18-24 age group at 21.4 percent. However, the obesity rate for this age group doubled since 2011. When comparing obesity rates from 2011 to 2020, obesity rates increased for most adult age groups, most notably for the 18-24 and 65 and older age groups. 

May 1, 2022

A look at Older North Dakotans .

The older adult population has and will likely continue to grow throughout North Dakota. The increase in the number of older adults will affect the state’s workforce, health and human services agencies, and beyond. From a decision-making perspective it is important to consider the actual change in numbers, the proportional change, as well as other breakdowns such as age subgroups and geography.

Although as a percent of the total population this age group has not seen big changes, due to the influx of younger population in the state, the number of older adults is increasing and will likely continue to increase with the aging of the baby boom generation (those born between 1946 and 1964). For example, the older adult population in North Dakota was 80,445 in 1980; 97,477 in 2010; and 123,141 in 2020.*

The older adult population (age 65 and older) represent 16 percent of the state’s population. According to the U.S. Census ACS 5-year estimates, more than half of them (55%) are people 65-74 years old, 30 percent are 75-84 years old and 15 percent are 85 and older. From 1980 to 2000, there was a large increase in the number of the oldest-old population (85 years and older). This population saw an 81 percent increase in total numbers from 8,140 in 1980 to 14,726 in 2000. In 2020, this age group accounted for 18,633 people in North Dakota. When looking at the change in population from 2000 to 2020, the 85 years and older population increased by 27 percent, which is a much smaller percentage increase than the previous time span of 1980-2000*.

By geography, in North Dakota, Sheridan County has the highest percentage of older adults, with one-third of the population (34%) being age 65 or older. There are 15 counties in North Dakota where more than one-fourth of population is age 65 or older. Sioux County has the lowest percent of older adults, at 9 percent.

Taking into consideration regional differences and the trends affecting the older population will help policy makers, health and human services, and community leaders more effectively plan for the needs, challenges and opportunities impacting older residents in North Dakota.

*Data according to the Census Bureau Population Estimates Program, 2020 Vintage.

April 1, 2022

Population change from 2020 to 2021 in North Dakota was not consistent across the state..

The U.S. Census Bureau’s population estimates as of July 1st, 2021, show a decline of 4,014 people in North Dakota when compared to the July 1st, 2020 population estimate. Recently released population estimates at lower levels of geography provide a more detailed look into the population change. Out of the state’s 53 counties, 34 lost population from 2020 to 2021. The losses range from 2,665 people in Williams County to 2 people in Logan county. The remaining 19 counties gained population. The highest gain was in Cass County (1,694 people).

Together, North Dakota’s urban counties lost 2,084 people, a 0.4 percent decrease from 2020. Rural counties lost 1,930 people collectively, a 1.0 percent decrease.

The Bismarck and Fargo metropolitan areas experienced a population increase from 2020 to 2021 (751 and 1,917, respectively). The Grand Forks metropolitan area lost 651 people from 2020 to 2021; a loss due to outmigration. Even though births outnumbered deaths by 237, there were 894 more people who moved out of the Grand Forks metro area than moved in during this timeframe.


Natural change = births minus deaths. 
Net migration = number of people who enter the area through domestic or international migration minus the people who leave the area.
Fargo Metropolitan Area comprises Cass County, North Dakota and Clay County, Minnesota.
Bismarck Metropolitan Area comprises Burleigh, Morton, and Oliver counties in North Dakota.
Grand Forks Metropolitan Area comprises Grand Forks County, North Dakota and Polk County, Minnesota.

Data Source: U.S. Census Bureau, Population and Housing Units Estimates.

March 1, 2022

Households with children mostly spent the 2021 Child Tax Credit payments on food.

Payments from the expanded Child Tax Credit (CTC), issued monthly from July to December 2021, helped parents to cover basic living expenses or pay down debt.

The U.S. Census Bureau’s Household Pulse Survey collected responses regarding spending of the CTC, from July 2021 to January 2022. The survey asked adults in households if they had received a CTC payment in the past four weeks, and if yes, they were asked to identify what they spent their CTC payment on. Respondents were able to select more than one option.

In North Dakota, the most common reported uses of the CTC payments were for basic needs (food, utilities, rent) and savings or paying down debt. Among choices, food consistently ranked first in terms of spending, ranging from 44 percent to 57 percent of households reported.

After food, reported spending over time shows that North Dakota households were more likely to spend CTC payments on school expenses and clothes around the start of school in August and early September, and on utilities and rent from September to the end of 2021. In January 2022, 57 percent of households with children that received CTC payments spent them on food, 36 percent on rent or mortgage, and 35 percent to pay for utilities.


Click here or on the picture for an interactive view. Select the timeframe to view. You can choose among seven time periods between July 2021 to January 2022. Hover over the chart bars for more detail.

Definitions: The percentage of households with children who spent the “Child Tax Credit” on different types of household and personal expenses and savings. Only those respondents who reported that someone in their household had received a “Child Tax Credit” payment in the past four weeks and provided a valid response are included.

Data Source: U.S. Census Bureau Household Pulse Survey. Data retrieved from KIDS COUNT Data Center 

February 1, 2022

A look into the slight decline in North Dakota’s population.

U.S. Census Bureau’s population estimates as of July 1st, 2021, show a decline of 4,014 people in North Dakota’s population as compared to the July 1st, 2020 population estimate. This population drop reverses a decade of population growth – tremendous growth from 2010 to 2015 and steady growth from 2016 to 2020.

A look at the components of change reveal some insight into the population loss. North Dakota had 9,798 births and 7,588 deaths from July 1st, 2020 to July 1st, 2021. The larger number of births compared to the number of deaths kept the natural change positive in 2021, however smaller than in any year of the previous decade. This is due to a slightly lower number of births and an increase in the number of deaths as compared to previous years (e.g., 10,536 births and 6,250 deaths in 2019, a COVID-19 pre-pandemic year).

Another component of population change is the net migration calculated as the number of people who enter the state (in-migration) minus the number of people who leave the state (out-migration). From July 1st, 2020 to July 1st, 2021, North Dakota experienced a larger number of people leaving than entering the state, a negative net migration of 6,166 residents, which is the largest loss of population due to migration since 2010. The negative net migration is due to a large number of domestic out-migration (-6,460 people) and a very small international in-migration (294 people). These changes can be attributed to the COVID-19 pandemic that impacted all components of population change – births, deaths, and migration in addition to changing economic circumstances and immigration policies.

Source: U.S. Census Bureau, Population and Housing Unit Estimates Vintage 2020 Estimates (Evaluation Estimates); Vintage 2021 Estimates

january 1, 2022

COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy among North Dakota adults in households with children 12 to 17 years old.

According to North Dakota Department of Health, as of December 2021, about two in five North Dakota children, age 12 to 18, have received at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine. The U.S. Census Bureau Household Pulse Survey collected information about children vaccination starting with phase 3.2 (July to October 2021). The new children vaccination questions provide some information about parents or guardians hesitant to have their children get the vaccine and the reasons behind that.

According to data collected by the Household Pulse Survey from July to October 2021, among North Dakota adults in households with non-vaccinated children age 12 to 17, eight percent definitely plan to vaccinate their children, 10 percent would probably get their children vaccinated, 15 percent are unsure, 14 percent would probably not vaccinate, and 37 percent definitely do not plan to vaccinate their children.

By excluding those who declared they would definitely get a vaccine, all others are considered hesitant (i.e., those who answered probably get a vaccine, unsure about getting a vaccine, probably not get a vaccine, definitely not get a vaccine). Overall, from July to October 2021, the main reasons mentioned by North Dakota parents/guardians who are hesitant to vaccinate their children against COVID-19 are concern about possible side effects for children (64%), lack of trust in the government (40%), and lack of trust in COVID-19 vaccines (39%).

For more detailed information about this topic, see the U.S. Census Household Pulse Survey and the COVID-19 Vaccination Tracker. Find more COVID-19 data resources on North Dakota Compass.

VIEW TOPIC:COVID-19 Data Resources


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