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Published September 24 2012

Housing needs boom as projections show ND population will break 800,000 by end of decade

FARGO - North Dakota’s population will break 800,000 by the end of the decade, according to state projections released Monday – and the state will need thousands of new housing units per year to meet burgeoning demand.

The projections, part of a report on the state’s housing needs, put the state’s population at 806,541 by 2020. That would represent a 20 percent increase over the 2010 population.

The growth won’t be uniform. The state’s oil-producing regions are expected to more than double in population, while 21 rural counties shrink as the state becomes more urban.

The report credits the state’s economy for driving the growth, with the energy industry leading the way. The demand for workers in the state’s oil industry is expected to peak at about 130,000 by 2020, up from 78,000 in 2010.

Accommodating those workers and other newcomers will require adding as many as 6,000 units of housing per year.

The report was produced by NDSU’s Center for Social Research, and prepared for the North Dakota Housing Finance Agency.

The biggest needs will be in Oil Patch areas already slammed by housing shortages. Williston alone will need 8,000 new housing units this decade as it swells to a projected 31,000 residents.

Minot, on the fringe of the boom, is expected to grow to more than 51,000 residents.

In eastern North Dakota, Fargo’s population is expected to grow by 13 percent to 121,000 by 2020. The city will need about 11,000 new housing units by then, the report said.

West Fargo is projected to reach nearly 30,000 residents by the decade’s end, a 16 percent growth rate.

Grand Forks is expected to grow by a more modest 8 percent to 57,000 residents.

Statewide, about half of new housing units will be needed by households earning 80 percent or less than the median family income, which is about $61,500 statewide.

And the state’s rapidly growing 65-and-older population “will create increased pressure for elderly housing, much of which will be for single elderly and those with low income,” the report said.

North Dakota population by the numbers

806,541: North Dakota’s projected population by 2020, a 20 percent increase over 2010.

130,000: Number of oil sector workers expected by 2020, when the industry is projected to stabilize. That’s up from 78,000 in 2010.

6,000: The number of new housing units the state will need to add every year for the next 15 years to meet projected demand.

Half of those units need to be affordable by households earning 80 percent or less of the median income for their areas.

10,839: The number of housing units Fargo will need to add between 2010 and 2020 to accommodate projected growth.

144 percent: The population growth expected for McKenzie County between 2010 and 2020, the fastest projected in the state.

13 percent: The growth rate expected for Cass County.

21: The number of counties expected to shrink over the next decade as the state becomes more urban.


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Readers can reach Forum reporter Marino Eccher at (701) 241-5502