Population forecast: Cloudy with some sun

North Dakota State Roundup

Published January 1, 2003  | January 2003 issue

North Dakota's demographic forecast predicts that three counties—Cass, Burleigh and Morton, home to Fargo, Bismarck and Mandan, respectively—will be islands of growth in an otherwise stagnant or declining state. The counties are expected to grow by 23 percent, 8 percent and 7 percent, respectively, by the year 2020.

The North Dakota State Data Center, which issued the projections, also foresees an increasingly older population. Twenty-three percent of residents are expected to be 65 and older within 20 years. That compares with an elderly population of 12 percent in 1980. Most alarming, perhaps, is the prediction that those 85 and older will increase almost 65 percent over their numbers in 2000.

One state demographer projects the state's population to dip until 2005—to 640,200 from 642,200 in 2000—then gradually rebound to over 651,000 in 2020.

Many rural areas will likely continue their long decline, with 47 of 53 counties projected to lose more people. Often, however, the losses will be modest, suggesting the comparative stability of the 1990s will continue in many areas. Grand Forks County expects 3 percent growth in the next two decades, which will contribute to population stability.

Rosie Cataldo