According to the weirdly huge text on the Census Bureau’s website, the fastest-growing state in the country in 2011 was North Dakota, which grew at a rate of 2.17 percent. The second fastest-growing state was the District of Columbia, which is not a state.
Your top ten in growth by percent and population:
You’ll notice that the growth in North Dakota was substantially higher than any other state. That’s for three reasons. First, because it had a smaller population to begin with. The state’s population in 2011 was about 684,000; if it were a city, it would be the 19th largest (and by far the least dense). Second, that great tourism ad from January.
The third reason is one we’ve talked about before: the fracking boom.
It’s impossible to argue that fracking doesn’t create jobs. A recent study in Michigan suggested that hydraulic fracturing of natural gas and oil created 38,000 direct or indirect jobs in Michigan this year. People have been pouring into North Dakota, relatively speaking — some 15,000 new residents over 12 months. What is also impossible to dispute is that this has shifted North Dakota culturally, but that’s a debate for a different day. We do, however, encourage everyone to keep arguing about what the fracking boom means environmentally.
I would take this population data with a grain of salt, however. It was released a day before winter starts, a time of year for which North Dakota is not known as an ideal destination. Though if we frack enough oil, winters will be perfectly pleasant in a few decades. Maybe that’s another reason for the population spike: real estate speculators.
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