Grand Forks is a city located in Grand Forks County North Dakota. Grand Forks has a 2023 population of 58,460. It is also the county seat of Grand Forks County.Grand Forks is currently declining at a rate of -0.27% annually and its population has decreased by -0.82% since the most recent census, which recorded a population of 58,942 in 2020.
The average household income in Grand Forks is $74,949 with a poverty rate of 17.89%. The median rental costs in recent years comes to - per month, and the median house value is -. The median age in Grand Forks is 29.4 years, 28.9 years for males, and 30.2 years for females.
The city’s economy is reliant on multiple industries, including agriculture, education, health care, manufacturing and food processing. The largest employer in Grand Forks is the Altru Health System, which employs over 4,000 people. Other major employers include the Grand Forks Air Force Base, the University of North Dakota, Grand Forks Public Schools, and Valley Memorial Home.
Grand Forks has seen its population rise through the years primarily because of the opportunities offered for education and jobs, as well as a low unemployment rate. The city’s population was over 10,000 by the time of the 1910 census. This number had more than doubled by the 1950 census. The city’s population exhibited growth in the double-digit percentages until the 2000 census, when a drop was recorded. However, the next 10-year census showed that the population had not just rebounded but had exceeded 50,000. The most recent estimates indicate that the population has grown by 8.5% since the 2010 census.
The region that is now Grand Forks was once a trading and meeting spot for Native Americans. Early French explorers came to the area, which they called Les Grandes Fourches (or The Grand Forks) to trade fur during the 18th century. When the 19th century arrived, the trader Alexander Henry created a temporary camp and a few years later, established a permanent post. Hudson’s Bay Company and the American Fur Company operated at this post. Later in the 19th century, the first post office was established, and the city’s name was changed to Grand Forks.
Other cities in the state relied on the railroad, but Grand Forks served as a steamboat port. In 1870, a steamboat froze in the Red River, and the captain claimed a piece of property that would later become the downtown area of Grand Forks.
The community grew quite quickly. The town’s first newspaper went to print in 1875 with another paper beginning just four years later. Grand Forks was incorporated as a city in 1881. Steamboat traffic, immigration and the arrival of the Great Northern Railway and the Northern Pacific Railway led to substantial growth. Most of the original settlers were farmers, but soon professionals and merchants came from Minneapolis and other cities to live in Grand Forks. Toward the end of the 19th century, brick buildings were constructed, including the Hotel Dacotah. The University of North Dakota was also founded around this time.
By the 20th century, the city was a center for transportation, education, health care, culture, and entertainment. New neighborhoods were constructed to keep up with the growing population. The city continued to expand with the addition of the North Dakota Mill and Elevator and Grand Forks Air Force Base, which brought new jobs and new residents to the area.
Toward the end of the 20th century, the suburban areas began to grow. Urban renewal projects were launched within the city limits to develop new schools, commercial centers, and a hospital. However, disaster struck in 1997 when the Red River flooded. The flood and fire were destructive to the city and led to the creation of a flood wall that was completed in 2006.
In recent years, the city has only continued to grow in terms of new developments and the population. This includes the construction of the Ralph Engelstad Arena, the Alerus City, homes, and additional commercial development.
According to the most recent ACS, the racial composition of Grand Forks was:
Black or African American
Two or more races
Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander
Average Family Size
Average Household Size
Rate of Home Ownership
Less Than 9th Grade
9th to 12th Grade
High School Graduate
High School Graduation Rate
The highest rate of high school graduation is among native american people with a rate of 78.62%.
The highest rate of bachelors degrees is among asian people with a rate of 44.42%.
Other Indo-European Languages
Asian and Pacific Island Languages
91.63% of Grand Forks residents speak only English, while 8.37% speak other languages. The non-English language spoken by the largest group is Other Indo-European, which is spoken by 3.06% of the population.
Overall Poverty Rate
Male Poverty Rate
Female Poverty Rate
The race most likely to be in poverty in Grand Forks is Islander, with 202.5% below the poverty level.
The race least likely to be in poverty in Grand Forks is Other, with 13.42% below the poverty level.
The poverty rate among those that worked full-time for the past 12 months was 3.09%. Among those working part-time, it was 31.88%, and for those that did not work, the poverty rate was 30.47%.
Overall Marriage Rate
Male Marriage Rate
Female Marriage Rate
The age group where males are most likely to be married is 55-64, while the female age group most likely to be married is 35-44.
Second Gulf War
First Gulf War
World War II
Less Than 9th Grade
High School Graduate
Bachelors or Greater
Veteran Poverty Rate
Veteran Disability Rate
Labor Force Participation
Non citizens include legal permanent residents (green card holders), international students, temporary workers, humanitarian migrants, and illegal immigrants.
Born in Grand Forks
98.68% of Grand Forks residents were born in the United States, with 55.74% having been born in North Dakota. 4.92% of residents are not US citizens. Of those not born in the United States, the largest percentage are from Asia.