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North Dakota's population hits record high

Economic growth drawing more people to state, Gov. Dalrymple says.

By Daniel J. Graeber
With a robust economy, North Dakota Gov. Jack Dalrymple says U.S. Census data show a population boom is under way in the oil-rich state. Photo by David Gaylor/Shutterstock
With a robust economy, North Dakota Gov. Jack Dalrymple says U.S. Census data show a population boom is under way in the oil-rich state. Photo by David Gaylor/Shutterstock

BISMARCK, N.D., Dec. 23 (UPI) -- The population of oil-rich North Dakota has reached an all-time high as people flock to take advantage of a strong economy, Gov. Jack Dalrymple said.

Data from the U.S. Census Bureau show the state population reached an all-time high of 756,927, a 2.5 percent increase from last year and the largest net increase for any U.S. state.

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"It's great to see that our economic growth continues to keep North Dakotans home and that we are attracting new residents who come for good jobs, a strong economy and our great quality of life," Gov. Dalrymple said in a statement.

North Dakota is the No. 2 oil producer in the nation, behind Texas. Lower crude oil prices are hurting state economies that depend heavily on the energy sector, though the governor said earlier this year the state's economy was managing the oil price downturn in part because of the emphasis on diversity that extended beyond the oil and gas sector.

The state has created 123,000 new jobs since 2004, a 36.6 percent gain, and personal income has increased by more than 40 percent. The state unemployment rate of 2.7 is the lowest in the country and Dalrymple's office said employers are reporting nearly 16,000 open positions.

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Oil production in October, the last full month for which data are available was 1.7 million barrels per day, slightly higher than the previous month, but lower than the 1.2 million bpd record set in December 2014.

The state in a monthly report published mid-December said companies working in North Dakota shale basins were seeing mixed results as efficiency improves against a backdrop of lower rig counts. A weak oil market is expected to run into next year, however, and cause some slowdown in the state.

Nevertheless, Dalrymple's office said the opportunities in the state are "plentiful." Since 2010, the state economy has grown around 12 percent annually on average, nearly four times the rate of the national economy.

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