ND's population growing partly due to abundance of jobs, study says

Jobs seem to be the No. 1 reason bringing people to or taking them away from North Dakota in the past year, a study found. Moving company United Van Lines released its national movers study the first week of January. "A lot of people are moving o...


Jobs seem to be the No. 1 reason bringing people to or taking them away from North Dakota in the past year, a study found.

Moving company United Van Lines released its national movers study the first week of January.  “A lot of people are moving out of or into North Dakota to be closer to their family or for a new job. The majority of reasons people nationwide move is for a job,” said Eily Cummings, spokeswoman for United Van Lines.

Of the people who were moving in North Dakota, more than half moved into the state for a job and 23 percent moved out for a job. United Van Lines found one out of every two people who moved in the past year nationwide moved for a new job or company transfer.

The U.S. Census reported North Dakota’s estimated population climbed to a record 760,077 residents in 2018. This is a gain of more than 4,000 people from the year before.

North Dakota is the 47th most populous state. Since the 2010 census, North Dakota’s population is estimated to have grown almost 13 percent.


Other reasons for moving While many moved for a job, 17 percent moved into the state for family reasons, while 23 percent moved out of North Dakota for family.

About 13 percent moved into and out of North Dakota for retirement.

North Dakota historically has seen young people moving into the state and those older than 65 years old moving out, said Kevin Iverson, who manages the North Dakota Census Office.

Iverson also said studies by moving companies tend to be a little skewed when it comes to age and income.

“Young people are less likely to hire a moving company than older adults,” Iverson said. “So those studies have always showed more are moving out than moving in.”

Since 2010, younger people have been moving into the state because there are so many jobs available.

“The economics are bringing people to North Dakota,” Iverson said. “Oil has had a huge impact, either directly or indirectly in support jobs, retail or construction.”

Almost 40 percent of those who moved into North Dakota last year were making less than $75,000.


Minnesota saw an influx of higher income people in 2018. Only about 30 percent of people moving into the state were making less than $75,000.

“This is probably linked to the kinds of jobs available in the state and affordability of housing in the state,” Cummings said.

Statistics like this also can be skewed. When migration increases in a state, so does poverty, Iverson said.

“People are reporting their salary from the previous year, but people are moving in because they can make more money in North Dakota,” Iverson said.

For those moving out of North Dakota, more than 60 percent listed “lifestyle” as their primary reason for moving.

“Lifestyle changes are usually linked to weather, people looking for more moderate weather, or to the topography and the landscape,” Cummings said. “So people moving out are probably looking for a more fast-paced lifestyle.”

North Dakota was the fourth youngest state in last year's estimate, according to census data.

It had an aging population up until 2010, Iverson said.


The influx of young people also can be attributed to many jobs in the oil industry becoming available.

“The millenial age group has come in, driving up the birth rate and our natural growth rate,” Iverson said.

Cummings said that is linked to job growth.

“People those ages moving into the state suggests that there are more jobs there, the economy is pretty stable,” Cummings said.

Balanced For just about every person moving out of the state, there is someone moving in, according to the study.

“It looks like there are a few more people moving out than moving in, but when I look at Grand Forks, it is split. It really is looking even,” Cummings said.

Grand Forks was more balanced than other cities in the state at nearly 50 percent moving in and out of North Dakota.

In Bismarck, 55 percent of movers were outbound and 45 percent were moving in, Cummings said. Nearly 60 percent of people in Fargo were moving out of the state.


But statewide, North Dakota and Minnesota fall on the middle of the spectrum for inbound and outbound residents.

With an increase in young people and “balanced” inbound and outbound populations, it makes sense that North Dakota’s census data would show an increase in people in the state.

“The last few years, we were losing population,” Iverson said. “But in 2018, things turned back to be positive. This has been driven by the economics of the state.”

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