Home Census US Census Bureau data shows greater urban change in North Dakota

US Census Bureau data shows greater urban change in North Dakota


Its largest employer, Motor Coach Industries, has experienced the same staffing issues as the rest of the country, but remains a major factor in attracting new people to the region. Recently, Fitzgerald has noticed more families with children. Pembina daycare, which opened in 2019, is full of children, and he estimates that the number of children in kindergarten through fifth grade doubles the number of sixth grade through high school. Fundraising for a Frisbee golf course and wading pool is underway.

According to the 2020 census, Pembina has a population of 512, a decrease of 80 since 2010 and a loss of 13.51%. Fitzgerald said the city auditor’s population tally in 2021 was 530. According to Fitzgerald, census numbers don’t give a full picture of what’s going on in Pembina.

“When you look at the numbers that way, it doesn’t look very good at all. In fact, we don’t have a lot of empty houses, and if they are, they are doomed, ”Fitzgerald said. “We actually have a waiting list for people to get into apartments here in Pembina.”

Overall, the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2020 North Dakota tally saw a 7.4% increase in population, from 672,591 in 2010 to 779,094 in 2020. But the state’s population has grown mainly in cities such as Fargo, Bismarck, Williston, Grand Forks, Dickinson and Minot. Statewide, census figures show a tendency for small towns to lose residents, while nearby large towns and towns grow.

The shift from rural to urban population is not new. Kevin Iverson, director of the North Dakota State Data Center, said North Dakota has seen people move out of small towns and settle in big cities for years. Iverson explained that many rural towns in North Dakota have an agriculture-based economy and over time fewer people were needed to support the industry. With fewer jobs in rural areas, people are drifting towards urban centers.

“Farmers have definitely gotten more efficient, tractors have gotten bigger,” said Iverson. “It’s getting more and more mechanized, the machines have gotten bigger and fewer people are needed to operate them. I think this will probably continue.

The tendency to leave rural areas is particularly popular among 18-34 year olds.

“It’s sort of last in, first out. What I mean by that is if you turn 18 in a small town and there are no jobs available, you will end up going where the jobs are, ”Iverson said. . “You don’t have a lot of them, so it’s really pretty easy to move at this age.”

Fitzgerald isn’t the only small town mayor surprised by the 2020 census results. In the region, other mayors also say census numbers don’t match what they see in their communities.

Blaine Scott, mayor of Rolette, North Dakota, said he didn’t think the tally was accurate, especially with Rolette County also experiencing a population decline. Lauri Rysavy, mayor of Michigan, North Dakota, said she has noticed more families with young children in town.

Mike Belanus, mayor of Walhalla, North Dakota, believes the COVID-19 pandemic may have resulted in inaccuracies in the census. Walhalla’s official tally at the 2020 census was 893. Compared to the 2010 tally of 996, the city is down 10.34%.

“Personally, I don’t really see this in my community. I don’t really see this decline of a hundred people. We have people leaving, but we also have people coming back, ”Belanus said.

The US Census Bureau is carrying out studies to verify the accuracy of the decennial census, but Iverson said the results of those studies had not yet been released and he didn’t expect to see them anytime soon. Until then, the accuracy of the census is unknown.

Meanwhile, Thompson, North Dakota, a city of 986 residents in 2010, saw its population increase by 11.66%, as reported by the 2020 census. The census reported 1,101 residents of Thompson. in 2020. Located 11 miles south of Grand Forks, Thompson’s proximity to the larger city may explain the city’s population growth, says Travis Fretheim, a member of the Thompson City Council.

“A lot of people want to be in a small town for education and also for their children to have more access to sports and extracurricular activities, and also just to live this small town life, while having a job in a big city.” , says Fretheim.

Iverson describes Thompson as a dormitory community. He said many small towns around Fargo, Bismarck and other large towns in the state have undergone a similar shift, from farming communities to dormitory communities.

“People live there but will tend to work in the big city. They like that small town atmosphere, but want to be where the jobs are or close to where the jobs are, ”Iverson said.

The biggest obstacle to Thompson’s growth is space. Right now, the city is running out of land to develop and, according to Mayor Dean Larimer, the only way to acquire more is to buy land from neighboring farmers. Larimer worries that if Thompson continues to grow, the supply of space will not be able to keep up with the demand for development.

“We’re kind of stuck in this position where we could probably grow up, but we just don’t have the room right now,” Larimer said.

Despite the loss of population in many small towns in North Dakota, their diversity is increasing. Iverson used Grafton as an example.

“Grafton has recorded a loss of 114 people over the past decade, but if you only count their non-Hispanic white population, they would have lost 538 people. However, they won in all of their other categories, ”Iverson said. “They won significantly in terms of the Hispanic population. They were 311 Hispanics, and then they gained other individuals who identify as another race.

Iverson cites North Dakota’s economy and employment opportunities as reasons the state continues to grow in terms of population and diversity.

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