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Census: Grand Forks, Polk counties gain from migration

They may have arrived in North Dakota to start a job, start over or just retire amid snowdrifts. Whatever the reason, new U.S. Census Bureau county-by-county migration estimates spanning from 2007 to 2011 reveal about 7,600 people moved to Grand ...

They may have arrived in North Dakota to start a job, start over or just retire amid snowdrifts.

Whatever the reason, new U.S. Census Bureau county-by-county migration estimates spanning from 2007 to 2011 reveal about 7,600 people moved to Grand Forks County over that time span.

About 2,000 new people called Polk County home in that timeframe as well.

The migration estimates tend to have a high margin of error but provide an idea of where people are coming from and heading to for all U.S. counties.

It’s likely many of the inbound movers didn’t come to Polk or Grand Forks counties looking for work but because of a job they’d been hired for already, according to Earl Haugen, director of the Grand Forks-East Grand Forks Metropolitan Planning Organization.


Still, enough people left Grand Forks County during those five years to reduce its total population gain from migration to 702 people. Births also outnumbered deaths in that timeframe, adding to the population growth.

Both numbers clash with the population loss found in the Census Bureau’s county population estimates. An estimate released in 2011 showed a nearly 400-person decrease from the county’s 2007 population of 66,983.

Migration data indicate Polk County lost 33 people overall when accounting for those moving out of the county. This also varies from its population estimate, which shows a 750-person increase from the county’s 2007 population of 30,708.

Include the 2012 population estimates and both counties show an increase in residents since 2007.

Net gains, losses

People from 43 states other than North Dakota made their new homes in Grand Forks County over that five-year stretch.

One seemingly out-of-place group of movers consisted of 177 people who moved from Santa Clara County in California.

While those people settled in, no Grand Forks or Polk County residents are shown trading the Red River Valley for Silicon Valley, which calls Santa Clara County home.


The Santa Clara group represented the largest net gain of movers from any county to Grand Forks County. The next two highest groups moved from Burleigh County and Minnesota’s Itasca County at 154 and 151 respectively.  

While the data - which comes from the census’ American Community Survey - don’t list reasons for residents’ moves, Haugen has a theory.

He suspects the Santa Clara group move might be military-related with people transferring from one military base to another.

Grand Forks County’s biggest net loss for the time period came at the hands of Cass County, which drew 270 people away from its northern neighbor.

Polk County attracted people from 28 other states besides Minnesota, but unlike Grand Forks, its top net gain did not come from a county out of state.

Polk gained 146 people overall from Douglas County, home to Alexandria, Minn., while its largest net loss of 120 people also stemmed from movers heading to Cass County.

County swap

As for total inbound traffic from other counties, Grand Forks and Polk counties remained at the top of each other’s lists.


Haugen said this is pretty typical.

“Most people don’t move jobs, they just move residences,” he said of the Greater Grand Forks area.

Those coming to Grand Forks County from Polk numbered at 486 people while those making the opposite trip across the Red River hit 423.

Both counties took big losses from movers heading south to Cass County.

Almost 700 people from Grand Forks County and about 170 from Polk County hit the road for Cass County during those five years.

In return, Grand Forks County received 428 people and Polk County collected 47 people from Cass County.

In addition to swapping counties and states, some adventurous movers also traded a different country for the United States.

More than 860 people moved from abroad to Grand Forks County and 145 people to Polk.


Moving out

As for the people who left Grand Forks or Polk counties, chances are they opted for a familiar state.

Only 20 percent of the nearly 2,000 people moving out of Polk County headed somewhere other than North Dakota or Minnesota - 27 other states to be exact.

The next most popular destination was California, followed by Montana and Oregon.

When it comes to the roughly 6,000 departing from Grand Forks County, about half of movers opted for a state other than North Dakota or Minnesota.

Missouri, Colorado and Arizona were the next most popular destinations for that group.

Also higher for the Grand Fork County outbound group was the variety of states to which people moved.

Movers headed to the District of Columbia and 44 other states besides North Dakota and Minnesota. The four left out of the Grand Forks County outmigration? Those would be Kentucky, Rhode Island, New Hampshire and Hawaii.


More On the Web: View the net gains and losses in an interactive tool for North Dakota and Minnesota counties online at  http://bit.ly/1gBsKak .

To view data for net, inbound and outbound movers for all other counties in the United States, visit the U.S. Census’ flow mapper tool at  1.usa.gov/1bPnfjX .


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