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Male Boom: North Dakota one of 10 states where men outnumber women

FARGO -- North Dakota remains one of 10 states where males outnumber females, a trend that has persisted since 2002 and was amplified by the male-dominated oil boom.

Males in North Dakota outnumber females from birth until the ages of 68 and 69, when the effects of females living longer take hold.

Last year, there were 105 males in North Dakota for every 100 females -- the highest in recent history -- and the imbalance exists throughout most of the state, according to a report by the North Dakota Census Office. That compares to 97 males for every 100 females nationally.

The gender imbalance is the most severe in northwest North Dakota, the heart of the Bakken Formation, where oil production has soared in recent years.

Williams County, which includes Williston, the hub of the Oil Patch, has 119 men for every 100 women. The population probably appears even more male-dominated, but only residents are counted, Kevin Iverson, North Dakota Census Office manager, said Monday.

Billings County, where Medora is located, is the most skewed county in the state, with 124 males for every 100 females.

Although all areas of the state have seen a shift toward more males, the trend is strongest in northwest North Dakota, which saw an 11 percent increase in the ratio of males to females from 2010 to 2014, to 117 males for every 100 females.

The heavily male-dominated petroleum industry helps to explain why men outnumber women by such lopsided margins in the west.

A breakdown by gender of mining, quarrying, and oil and gas extraction jobs shows males outnumbered females by more than 10 to 1, with 22,656 men and 2,098 women working in the sector as of the middle of last year, census figures show.

With the slowdown in oil and gas, and the opportunity for other employment sectors to catch up, Iverson expects North Dakota's gender imbalance -- which saw men begin to outnumber women in 2002 -- narrow.

"I'm kind of looking to when the things balance out," he said. "I suspect that's happening."

But males led females both in births and migration into the state, especially among those 20 to 24 years old -- a cohort in which there were 118 males for every 100 females.

"Males tend to migrate easier than females," Iverson said. "That could explain part of it."

Among urban centers in North Dakota, only Burleigh County, which includes Bismarck, had more females than males--99 males for every 100 females.

That could be because state government, with its large number of administrative and clerical jobs, draws more female workers, Iverson said, noting that the District of Columbia, the seat of the federal government, is the nation's most female-dominated major metropolitan area.

Cass County has 103 males for every 100 females, below the state average.

Hettinger County in southwestern North Dakota had the lowest percentage of males to females, with 94 males for every 100 females.

Race also plays a role, according to the state gender analysis. Among American Indians, there are an estimated 97 males for every 100 females.

North Dakota's Hispanic and African-American populations, however, tended to be heavily male, with 142 black males and 118 Hispanic males for every 100 females.

North Dakota is second to Alaska as the most male-dominated states. Other states with more males than females include Montana, Wyoming, South Dakota, Utah, Idaho, Nevada, Colorado and Hawaii.

Among employers in Fargo, the gender imbalance has not shown up noticeably in the work force, said Dawn Kearns, talent specialist at Manpower.

"We've not heard any statistics like that," she said, when told males outnumber females.

Training and experience are what employers look for in hiring, she said.

"It's more that than gender, by far," Kearns said.

Patrick Springer

Patrick Springer first joined the reporting staff of The Forum in 1985. He can be reached by calling 701-241-5522. Have a comment to share about a story? Letters to the editor should include author’s name, address and phone number. Generally, letters should be no longer than 250 words. All letters are subject to editing. Send to