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Census: North Dakota added homes faster than any other state in the U.S. this decade

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No other state in the U.S. has built homes at a faster rate than North Dakota since the last Census, according to recently released data.

Construction crews built 57,160 housing units in the state from April 1, 2010, to July 1, 2017, according to U.S. Census numbers released Thursday. North Dakota's housing stock grew by 18 percent in that timeframe, the fastest in the country, the Census said.

Utah was second with 10.7 percent, followed in order by Texas, Idaho and South Dakota.

Nationally, the housing stock grew by 4.3 percent in the same period, or by 5.7 million units, according to Census data. North Dakota had 374,657 housing units as of July 1.

Minnesota had more than 2.4 million housing units and grew by almost 4 percent since the 2010 Census.

The largest jumps came for North Dakota in the mid 2010s—the state added at least 10,000 units a year in 2013, 2014 and 2015. That was in large part because of the oil boom in western North Dakota, said Kevin Iverson, Census Office manager for North Dakota.

For example, McKenzie County, in the heart of the Oil Patch, built homes faster than any other county in North Dakota from 2010 to 2017, according to Census data. The county that includes Watford City had 6,736 housing units as of July 1 with a growth rate of 118 percent.

Williams County, which is home to Williston, grew by 87 percent. Stark County, with Dickinson, grew by 37 percent and Ward County, which has Minot, had a growth rate of 24 percent.

There was development as well in other counties, particularly ones that hold the state's largest cities. Cass County, with Fargo, added 18 percent to its housing market, Burleigh County, which has Bismarck, grew by 16 percent and Grand Forks County reported a growth rate of 13 percent.

No counties lost housing units, though the slowest growth was reported in Towner County with 0.6 percent, according to Census data.

Polk County in Minnesota had 14,966 housing units as of July 1, with a growth rate of 2 percent.

North Dakota's housing development has slowed since the oil boom settled down. That state only added about 3,700 units from 2016 to 2017, according to Census data.

North Dakota has "led the pack" for housing growth in the U.S., Iverson said. Continued growth, even if it has slowed in recent years, shows people did not accept that the oil boom's slowdown presented a "doom and gloom" scenario, he said.

"People kept building for the future, kind of thinking, 'We are going to get through this,' " Iverson said.

Construction crews are "absolutely keeping busy," said Kim Schneider, CEO for the North Dakota Association of Builders.

"They're pretty busy everywhere," she said of her organization's member builders. "I can't say there has been a slowdown for any of them."

The largest struggle builders face is finding enough workers to fill positions, she said. Still, the growth rate shows North Dakota is keeping people in the state, Schneider said.

"It's exciting for North Dakota as a whole, not just our industry," she said of the housing growth rate. "It's really a great statistic for all of us to see."

This year, North Dakota has approved permits for 530 housing units as of April, down slightly from the 685 approved last year as of April 2016, according to the U.S. Census.

In total, North Dakota approved permits for 3,375 housing units last year, with more than two-thirds for single-unit homes.

April Baumgarten

April Baumgarten joined the Grand Forks Herald May 19, 2015, and covers crime and education. She grew up on a ranch 10 miles southeast of Belfield, where her family raises registered Hereford cattle. She double majored in communications and history/political science at Jamestown (N.D.) College, now known as University of Jamestown. During her time at the college, she worked as a reporter and editor-in-chief for the university's newspaper, The Collegian. Baumgarten previously worked for The Dickinson Press as a city government and energy reporter in 2011 before becoming the editor of the Hazen Star and Center Republican. She then returned to The Press as a news editor, where she helped lead an award-winning newsroom in recording the historical oil boom.

Have a story idea? Contact Baumgarten at 701-780-1248.

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