Census estimate: North Dakota’s population reached record high in 2018

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FARGO — North Dakota’s estimated population climbed to a record 760,077 residents in 2018 — a gain of 4,901 that reversed a dip in population last year.

Gov. Doug Burgum ballyhooed the latest estimate from the Census Bureau, issued Wednesday, Dec. 19, as a sign the state’s economy is on the upswing.

“We’re excited to see more people moving into North Dakota, and for good reason,” the governor said in a statement. “Our economy is strong, our jobs are abundant and our quality of life is second to none.”

The state’s census manager attributed the increase in the population estimate to the fact that births remain high, deaths did not increase as much as expected, and migration of job seekers coming to the state has resumed.

“I think we are in a period of slower but more sustained growth compared to what we saw in the earlier part of the decade,” said Kevin Iverson, who manages the North Dakota Census Office.


Births have exceeded 10,000 for the past six years, he said. "For the last three years, we've maintained the third-highest birth rate, behind Utah and Alaska."

Also, North Dakota is once again attracting people, a trend dating back to around 2003-04 that was interrupted in 2016 and 2017. In turn, attracting more young adults to the state helps push the birth rate higher, Iverson said.

"It is directly tied to the in-migration of young individuals moving to the state," he said, referring to the high birth rate.

North Dakota’s estimated 2017 population was revised down slightly to 755,176 residents from 755,393.

With the latest estimate, for 2018, North Dakota keeps its status as the 47th most populous state, a ranking it regained when the state surpassed Alaska between 2013 and 2014.

Since the 2010 census, North Dakota has been one of the nation’s fastest growing states, with a population estimated to have grown by almost 13 percent since 2010.


North Dakota was the fourth youngest state in last year's estimate, a position Iverson expects the state will keep this year.

Although the latest census estimate is encouraging, North Dakota has more work to do, Burgum said.

"While this population growth affirms our state is on the right track, we still have thousands of jobs to fill, making it vitally important that we invest in workforce development and create healthy, vibrant communities to attract and retain a 21st century workforce."

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