North Dakota Population 2017


In the far north of the United States and located along the border of Canada, North Dakota is a sizeable territory with some interesting population statistics. In terms of its size, North Dakota is the 19th largest state in the country, but it is extremely sparsely populated by comparison. North Dakota has an estimated population in 2016 of 756,927, up considerably from 672,000 recorded in 2010. The current growth rate is an astounding 1.99%, which ranks 2nd in the nation.

The last set of confirmed statistics for the North Dakota population can be supplied by the national census of 2010. The survey ultimately showed that there were 672,591 people residing in the state, and that reflected a modest rise of 4.7% on the numbers declared at the census of 2000. The estimated 2016 population of North Dakota was placed at 756,927, which makes it the 3rd least populous state in the country.

North Dakota has a surface area of 70,700 square miles (183,272 square kilometers), and for every square mile of land, there is an average of just 9.7 people. Overall the figures combine to make North Dakota only the 47th most densely populated state in the entire country.

Fargo remains the largest city in the state with a population of 118,523.

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North Dakota Population Chart

North Dakota Population History

The history of North Dakota’s population tells a very interesting story. In 1870, the population totaled a mere 2,405. An explosion in numbers followed, and just ten years later, the census of 1880 showed that an increase of over 1,000% had taken those figures to 36,909.

That sort of population spike just couldn’t be sustained, even in a state as vast and empty as North Dakota, but further healthy increases followed over the course of the next forty years, and in 1920, figures were confirmed at 646,872.

From 1923 onwards, net migration out of the state had an adverse effect on the North Dakota population. In a state that was almost exclusively rural, employment opportunities were limited, and it is widely acknowledged that younger people with university educations left in droves rather than take up the risky life of subsistence farming.

As a result, population figures fluctuated greatly in North Dakota in the latter half of the 20th century, and increases at one census were often met with falls ten years later. Despite this, natural growth within the country stayed healthy, and the last two census surveys have indicated overall increases in numbers.

North Dakota Population Projections

As a result of these fluctuations, the population of North Dakota in 2016 is a little hard to predict, but based on a pattern of modest increase, it is estimated to have reached over 750,000.

However, the census of 2020 is needed to confirm whether that growth will be sustained or whether a further drop in numbers has been recorded. It's important to keep in mind that North Dakota is currently enjoying one of the highest growth rates in the United States, second only to the District of Columbia. Estimates show that North Dakota's population will finally break 800,000 by 2020, hitting the 1 million mark by 2040.

Population Data via US Census

North Dakota Growth Rate

North Dakota State Rank

Year Pop % Change
2020 841,362 2.05%
2019 824,475 2.09%
2018 807,588 2.14%
2017 790,701 2.18%
2016 773,814 2.23%
2015 756,927 2.28%
2014 740,040 2.27%
2013 723,626 3.04%
2012 702,265 2.47%
2011 685,326 1.89%
2010 672,591 0.46%
2000 642,200 0.05%
1990 638,800 -0.22%
1980 652,717 0.55%
1970 617,761 -0.23%
1960 632,446 0.20%
1950 619,636 -0.35%
1940 641,935 -0.59%
1930 680,845 0.51%
1920 646,872 1.15%
1910 577,056 6.10%
1900 319,146 5.27%
1890 190,983 17.87%
1880 36,909 31.40%
1870 2,405 0.00%

North Dakota Facts

North Dakota Population in 2017 Source: Bobak Ha'Eri

  • The first settlements were built around Pembina in 1812 by the Scottish and the Irish.
  • North Dakota is considered the most rural US state, as over 90% of its land is used for farming.
  • The state is named after the Dakota Indians who lived on the land prior to European settlement.
  • North Dakota has the lowest unemployment rate -- 3.2% -- in the entire country.
  • An oil boom in the Bakken fields made North Dakota the fastest-growing state in 2012.
  • North Dakota is the least-visited state in the US.
  • North Dakota is the only state to have never experienced an earthquake.
  • The state is the second top producer of oil in the US, only falling behind Texas.
  • The state is the largest producer of honey in the nation.

North Dakota Population Density by County

  • Population
  • Density
  • Growth Since 2010
  • State Rank
  • % of State

North Dakota Population Growth Rate by County

Data taken from the 2010 Census and US Census Bureau estimates from 2015 shows some very interesting population growth patterns in the state of North Dakota. When comparing this data, it shows that all but two of the counties along the western border of the state had increases in population during the 5-year period. Further, this pattern of growth extended across the western region, heading toward the center of the state. Many counties saw significant growth during this time period, lead by McKenzie County which recorded an astounding 100.44% rate of growth. Trailing behind is Williams County, with a smaller but still impressive 56.26% growth rate. Dunn County, Stark County, and Mountrail posted over 30% of growth during this time, while there were other counties that had growth rates ranging from less than 1% to over 20%.

A few counties in the state, found along the easter border and in the south, had declines in population. The largest loss was recorded in Nelson at 4.87%, while Griggs, Dickey, Cavalier, and Logan were among the others that had populations that were lower in 2015 than those recorded at the time of the 2010 Census.

Population Pyramid

To compare North Dakota to other states, click here.

Population by Race

Race Population Percentage

North Dakota is one of the largest resettlement regions for refugees, taking in over 68 refugees per 100,000 residents. The population of North Dakota has a much smaller percentage of minorities than the United States as a whole, excluding Native Americans. The state's percentage of African American residents is ranked 46 out of 50 states. Its population of Asian Americans is also ranked as one of the ten lowest in the nation.

Data from the US Census Bureau shows that there is a significant population of Native Americans in the state of North Dakota. In terms of the population of Native American inhabitants, North Dakota ranked 19th out of 50 states. It terms of percentage of the state's total population, North Dakota ranked 6th based on data from the 2010 Census.

Most residents from North Dakota are of Northern European descent, and the most common ancestries include: German (47.2%), Norwegian (30.8%), Irish (7.7%), Swedish (4.7%), Russian (4.1%) and French (4.1%).

Languages Spoken in North Dakota

Language Population Percentage
Population 5 years and over 644,506 100
English 615,611 95.52
Spanish 9,190 1.43
German 8,540 1.33
Norwegian 1,425 0.22
Chinese 1,060 0.16
French 895 0.14
Cushite 835 0.13
Dakota 685 0.11
Bantu 600 0.09

This chart shows the top 10 non-English languages that are spoken at home in North Dakota. The data comes from the most recent release of the American Community Survey (ACS).

North Dakota Economy

HighSchoolGraduate 91
BachelorsDegree 27
Disabled 7
NoHealthInsurance 9
LaborForceTotal 70
LaborForceFemale 65
FoodServiceSales 2,045,123
HealthCareRevenue 5,418,355
ManufacturerShipments 14,427,360
MerchantWholesalesSales 28,150,837
RetailSales 15,519,816
RetailSalesPerCapita 22,183
MeanWorkTravelTime 17
MedianHouseholdIncome 55,579
PerCapitaIncome 30,894
PovertyPercentage 12

This chart shows the employment and labor force participation rates in North Dakota for residents over 16 years of age. The 2015 unemployment rate is 2% and the labor force participation rate is 70.3%.

North Dakota Business

NonemployerEstablishments 53,588
AllFirms 68,270
MenOwnedFirms 37,016
WomenOwnedFirms 20,316
MinorityOwnedFirms 3,190
NonminorityOwnedFirms 62,271
VeteranOwnedFirms 6,584
NonveteranOwn 56,904

North Dakota Housing

HousingUnits 362,960
HousingUnits 317,498
OwnerOccupiedRate 65
OwnerOccupiedMedianValue 142,000
MonthlyOwnerCostsMortage 1,236
MonthlyOwnerCostsNoMortage 419
MedianGrossRent 676
BuildingPermits 6,256
Households 292,616
PersonsPerHousehold 2
SameHouseOneYearAgo 83
NonEnglishAtHome 5
Data Sources
  1. Census State Population Estimates - Most recent state estimates from the Census Bureau's Population Estimates Program - released 6/23/2016
  2. Census County Population Estimates - Most recent county estimates from the Census Bureau's Population Estimates Program - released 6/23/2016
  3. American Community Survey (2009 - 2013)
  4. Census QuickFacts