North Dakota had the Fastest Growing Population in 2015

Jun 11, 2016

According to the most recent state and county population data from the U.S. Census Bureau, as shown in Chart 1, North Dakota had the fastest growing population in 2014. North Dakota’s population grew by 2.3 percent (16,887 people) between 2014 and 2015.


 Chart 1 North Dakota Percent Change in Population 2014 to 2015.jpg


Their booming population growth is due to both a high net natural population rate (births minus deaths) and net migration rate (domestic and international). Of course, the economic boom surrounding the oil and gas drilling in the Bakken Formation is primarily responsible for these positive demographic trends.



#NorthDakota has the fastest growing population in 2015. (click to tweet)


As shown in Chart 2, North Dakota’s net natural population rate, as a percent of total population, was 0.7 percent in 2015—the 4th highest rate in the country. This high net natural population rate is due to both a high birth rate (1.48 percent, 3rd highest) and a low death rate (0.78 percent, 13th lowest).


 Chart 2 North Dakota Net Natural Population Change as a Percent of Population 2015.jpg


More significantly, as shown in Chart 3, North Dakota’s net migration rate, as a percent of total population, was 1.55 percent—the 2nd highest rate in the country. The vast majority of this migration originates within the U.S. with the domestic migration rate at 1.32 percent—also the highest level in the country. In contrast, the international migration rate was 0.23 percent which ranks as the 27th highest.


 Chart 3 North Dakota Net Migration as a Percent of Population 2015.jpg


Thanks to these favorable demographic trends, North Dakota is currently well positioned to face the coming Demographic Winter.




Of course, the population change within North Dakota is not distributed equally. The top 10 North Dakota counties with the highest rate of population change between 2014 and 2015 include:


  • McKenzie County, ND (16.7 percent)
  • Williams County, ND (9.9 percent)
  • Mountrail County, ND (6 percent
  • Stark County, ND (5.5 percent)
  • Dunn County, ND (4.9 percent)
  • Burke County, ND (3.3 percent)
  • Billings County, ND (2.9 percent)
  • Burleigh County, ND (2.7 percent)
  • Cass County, ND (2.5 percent)
  • Ward County, ND (2.5 percent


The bottom 10 North Dakota counties with the slowest rate of population change between 2014 and 2015 include:


  • Nelson County, ND (-2.4 percent)
  • Sioux County, ND (-2.1 percent)
  • Pierce County, ND (-1.7 percent
  • Benson County, ND (-1.5 percent)
  • Sargent County, ND (-1.2 percent)
  • Towner County, ND (-1.1 percent)
  • Sheridan County, ND (-1 percent)
  • Cavalier County, ND (-0.8 percent)
  • Logan County, ND (-0.8 percent)
  • Emmons County, ND (-0.6 percent


Click here to view our full demographic data app with details by state, by county, type of growth (natural [births minus deaths] and migrant [domestic and international]), and over time.


 North Dakota Percent Population Change by County 2014 to 2015.jpg

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Category: Demographics

J. Scott Moody

Scott has nearly 20 years of experience as a public policy economist. He is the author, co-author and editor of over 180 studies and books. His professional experience also includes positions at the American Conservative Union Foundation, Granite Institute, Federalism In Action, Maine Heritage Policy Center, Tax Foundation, and Heritage Foundation.

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