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March 2024

North Dakota Compass Releases the 2024 Compass Points

Launched in 2013, North Dakota Compass, a statewide social indicators program, unique to North Dakota, was developed to support, empower, and enable North Dakota nonprofits, community leaders, government agencies, educators, foundations, and policymakers to meet their goals and objectives to positively impact their communities and the state. ND Compass continues to be a centralized source for current, curated, accurate, and unbiased actionable demographic and socio-economic data, placed in context, to support decision making and community engagement in North Dakota. This article highlights the notable trends and data points that appear in the newly released 2024 Compass Points.


Compass Points 2024, ND Compass’ signature publication sponsored by Dakota Medical Foundation, just launched, and continues to capture the current state of North Dakota, how North Dakota fares in relation to other states, and measures of progress over time in key topic areas. The goal of this publication is to provide data and analysis to better identify and build understanding about the issues and opportunities facing the state of North Dakota.
Below are several of the notable trends highlighted in this year’s edition of Compass Points.

North Dakota continues to gain population in 2023

North Dakota’s population reached 783,926 in 2023. A look at the components of change over the past three years reveals notable trends. Although annual births saw a slight decline (from 10,019 in 2020-2021 to 9,649 in 2022-2023), a corresponding decrease in deaths resulted in an overall growth in natural change (births minus deaths).

North Dakota also experienced a positive net migration in 2022-2023, which deviates from the negative trends in the previous two years. This positive shift is attributed to an increase in international migration (2,298 people) and minimal domestic out-migration (-9 people) compared to previous years. Maintaining a positive natural increase and the ability to attract and retain residents contributes to North Dakota’s continued population increase.

North Dakota’s poverty rate is down slightly from 2010 but varies greatly by county

In 2022, North Dakota's poverty rate was 12 percent, just below the national average of 13 percent. While the 2022 poverty rate represented a slight decrease from 13 percent in 2010, North Dakota's ranking worsened among states dropping from 16th lowest poverty rate in 2010 to 21st in 2022.

While 36 counties in North Dakota had poverty rates below the national average in 2022, significant disparities existed among counties. Mercer County had the lowest poverty rate at 7 percent, followed closely by Ransom and Steele counties. Conversely, Benson (25%), Rolette (26%), and Sioux (33%) counties had poverty rates exceeding one-quarter of the population. On a positive note, among all North Dakota counties, Benson and Sioux counties experienced the largest decreases in poverty rates from 2010, with declines of 10 and 8 percentage points, respectively.

Some unhealthy behaviors decreased among North Dakota high school students in the past decade

According to the Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS) administered to high school and middle school students throughout the U.S., the percentage of high schoolers in North Dakota who currently drink alcohol (at least one drink of alcohol, on at least one day during the past month) decreased from 39 percent in 2011 to 24 percent in 2021.

In addition, 6 percent of high school students in North Dakota reported currently smoking cigarettes (at least one day in the past month), down from 19 percent in 2011. However, in 2021, 21 percent of high school students reported currently using an electronic vapor product (at least one day during the past month).

Many young people engage in sexual behaviors that can result in adverse health outcomes, such as unintended pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV. The proportion of high school students who ever had sex decreased from 45 percent in 2011 to 37 percent in 2021.

New on ND Compass

New this year, Compass Points showcases a number of new features added to the website in the past year, such as the Social Determinants of Health Toolkit, the State Legislative Districts Dashboard, and the most recent PRAMS Points Dashboards that feature analysis of data on Maternal Adverse Childhood Experiences, Postpartum Depression and Car Seat Awareness.

Social Determinants of Health Toolkit

IHealth and well-being are essential building blocks to personal fulfillment, thriving communities, and a stronger state. A 2022 study sponsored by the Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Dakota Caring Foundation and conducted by the Center for Social Research at North Dakota State University examined how the Social Determinants of Health in North Dakota shape the health of North Dakotans and the communities where they live. The Social Determinants of Health Toolkit presented on ND Compass is a supplement to the study and presents county-level data from the statewide report to better visualize the rich data presented in the report. The toolkit is updated regularly with new and current data and information.

New PRAMS Points

The Pregnancy Risk Assessment Monitoring System (PRAMS) is a collaboration project of the North Dakota Health and Human Services Agency and the Center for Social Research at North Dakota State University. PRAMS focuses on gathering state-specific data on maternal attitudes and experiences before, during, and shortly after pregnancy to improve the health of mothers and infants – with the overall goal of reducing infant morbidity and mortality. To help disseminate project results, a series of dashboards referred to as PRAMS Points have been developed, on a variety of topics including oral health, existing and gestational diabetes, safe sleep, adverse childhood experiences, postpartum depression, and car seat awareness, with the last three added in 2023.

North Dakota State Legislative Districts Dashboard

North Dakota Compass launched a new interactive dashboard feature with the 2024 State Legislative District Profiles update. The profiles are intended to encourage dialogue among legislators, members of government agencies, community-based organizations, educators, individuals, and businesses about how to best support communities and residents in North Dakota. The newly created dashboard makes it easy to visualize the variation in individual and household characteristics among North Dakota’s districts and simple to compare specific districts.

State of the State
The state of the state segment of Compass Points provides key metrics in all topics on the ND Compass website, highlighting how North Dakota compares (ranking) to other states and how the state is trending.
North Dakota ranked among the top 5 states for…

  • The percentage of adults (age 16-64) who are working (79.2% - first place, highest percentage)
  • The percentage of households who are cost-burdened from housing (25.0% - 4th lowest)
  • Babies born at low birth weight (7.1% - 5th lowest)

North Dakota ranked among the bottommost states for…

  • The percentage of children (3 and 4 years old) enrolled in preschool (29.1% - rank 50th out of 50 states, lowest percentage)
  • Annual change in Gross Domestic Product (GDP) (-1.3% - rank 47th out of 50 states)

Compared to the previous year, North Dakota improved on ...

  • 3rd graders proficient in reading (increased from 38.8% in 2022 to 40.3% in 2023)
  • 8th graders proficient in math (increased from 33.7% in 2022 to 34.6% in 2023)
  • Homeownership (increased from 63.1% in 2021 to 65.1% in 2022)
  • The proportion of adults working (increased from 77.2% in 2021 to 79.2% in 2022)
  • The percent of people without health insurance (decreased from 9.2% in 2021 to 7.5% in 2022)

Compared to the previous year, North Dakota trended unfavorably on ...

  • Residents (age 16 and older) who volunteered in the past year (decreased from 35.2% in 2019 to 29.2% in 2021)
  • Percent of eligible voters who voted in the mid-term election (decreased from 58.7% in 2018 to 42.9% in 2022)
  • Students who graduate high school on time (decreased from 84.3% in 2022 to 82.7% in 2023)

Data for the 2024 Compass Points is provided by North Dakota Compass with the most recent data updated in February 2024, unless defined otherwise. Data sources, years, margins of error, and additional notes are available on

Download the 2024 Compass Points.
Browse for more data and trends.

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