North Dakota growing in size but also growing younger; Cavalier County follows trend

North Dakota’s population has reached an all-time high of 756,927, an increase of 16,887 residents since last year’s U.S. Census Bureau count.

Mostad family

Posted on 7/2/16

By Melissa Anderson

North Dakota’s population has grown by 2.5 percent since last year, the largest percent increase among all states, the Census Bureau reported today.

North Dakota is the only state in the nation that continued to grow younger in 2015, according to estimates released by the U.S. Census Bureau. North Dakota was the only state to decline their media age from 34.9 to 34.6 between July 1, 2014 and July 1, 2015.

“North Dakota continues to be the fourth youngest state in the nation,” said Kevin Iverson, manager of the North Dakota Census Office. “Overall, 40 counties have seen a reduction in median age between July 2014 and 2015 with an additional four seeing no change.”

Maine had the highest median age at 44.5 years, and Utah had the lowest at 30.7 years. Only Utah, Alaska (33.8) and Texas (34.3) were estimated to be younger than North Dakota.

North Dakota’s low unemployment rate, 2.8 percent as of May 2016, and availability of over 15,400 open job positions in the state continues to attract youth to the state. North Dakota has the highest portion of young adults, with 9.6 percent of the state’s population being 20 to 24 years old, the highest rate in the country. recently named North Dakota as the best state for millenniums based on factors including unemployment rates, affordability of housing, and access to entertainment and broadband.

Cavalier County is one of 40 out of 53 counties within the state to actually grow younger in the demographics.

“I think the statistics indicate that the population loss we have experienced in Cavalier County since the 1980s is starting to stabilize,” Cavalier County Job Development Authority Executive Director Shannon Duerr said.

While the last census showed that Cavalier County continued to experience an overall population loss, the loss was smaller than in previous decades.

“I believe that if the trend for growth in the younger demographics continues, we will eventually see the population loss reverse,” Duerr explained.

The statistics from the 2010 census had some interesting numbers in regards to the demographics of both the City of Langdon and Cavalier County in general.

In the City of Langdon:

• The 20-24 age bracket grew by 66.7 percent

• The 25-34 age bracket grew by 12.4 percent

In Cavalier County:

• The 20-24 age bracket grew by 29.1 percent

• The 25-34 age bracket went down.

The 2015 census estimates show this trend continuing and some new growth that was not seen in 2010 official numbers:

For Cavalier County:

• The 20-24 age bracket is estimated to have grown an additional 45.1 percent over 2010.

• The 25-34 age bracket is estimated to have grown an additional 9.5 percent over 2010.

“Another fact that is pretty cool from the 2015 estimates is that the population of children is also growing in Cavalier County for the younger brackets,” Duerr said.

The under 5 age bracket is estimated to have grown by 17.3 percent. The 5 to 9 age bracket also showed growth although not as dramatic, this age bracket is estimated to have grown by 3.0 percent. This is a trend that was not seen in 2010 census statistics and in fact in 2010 the 0-5 age bracket was down 11.5 percent and the 5 to 9 was down 34.1 percent.

So what is bringing the younger age groups to Cavalier County and the Langdon area? Duerr has some theories.

“I think there are several factors that are bringing people back to the community,” Duerr said, “Many are coming back to take over or work on the family farm, but many are coming back to take over businesses or fill jobs.”

Duerr knows that this is an interesting time for generational transfers not just in Cavalier County but across the nation. Baby Boomers are retiring, and their jobs are being filled by those in the younger demographics.

“I think we are seeing a lot of that happening here. We have been very fortunate in Cavalier County that a lot of our businesses have continued to remain open as people retire. As the owners have been able to find people to purchase their businesses,” Duerr said.

Duerr notes that not all communities are this lucky, and business transition planning is becoming a hot topic of discussion for economic development groups in the state.

“We are also seeing many young people see a community the size of Langdon as a good place to raise a family. They like the quality of life in a smaller town,” Duerr said.

Jeff Mostad and his family are a prime example of a young family coming back to Langdon and settling down. Mostad is an agent, manager and part owner of Mostad Insruance Services in Langdon.

“The biggest reason we came back is because it is a great place to raise a family and had a family owned business that I could take over,” Mostad said.

Mostad wasn’t alone in his migration back to his hometown as many of his friends also moved back to the area taking over family farms and businesses.

“The community is great, so I knew what I was coming back to, and a lot of my friends were coming back to run their family farms,” Mostad added.

Rural populations across the state still have an uphill battle to maintain their populations as the age groups   show a trend towards aging causing a decrease but with so many young people and families moving back to the smaller communities throughout the state the hope of reducing that decades long trend is high.

“I hope Langdon continues to grow younger and that we can find ways to help it grow,” Mostad said.