- Associated Press - Saturday, October 29, 2016

MINOT, N.D. (AP) - Researchers say Ward County and Minot are poised for population growth in the next couple of decades.

Minot Daily News (https://bit.ly/2f07OOf) reports that determining the amount of growth comes down to population models that must account for economic activity driven by the unpredictability of oil and gas prices, the Minot Daily News (https://bit.ly/2f07OOf) reported.

Three separate analyses this year show that the region can expect modest growth, even if oil prices remain low.

Analysts say Ward County, with an estimated July 2015 Census Bureau population of over 71,000, could post a population of 91,000 or more in 2040. Minot, with a 2015 population estimate of more than 49,400, could grow to nearly 58,600 by 2029.

“Those rates are very healthy. They are very manageable,” said Dean Bangsund, a North Dakota State University economist. “What Ward County has gone through in the past, if it’s felt that was a comfortable pace of growth, you will be more than comfortable in handling future expansion.”

The state as a whole could hit a million people by 2035.

“Even though there’s a recent slowdown in the oil and gas industry, we are still much larger than we have been. For the first time, we are seeing our population getting younger, so as we are going forward, population is going to be driven not only by migration but by childbirth,” said North Dakota State University researcher Nancy Hodur, who was involved in two of the studies.

The census report forecasts the number of children younger than 5 will increase from about 52,000 currently to 71,000 in 2030, after which time numbers will decline slightly.

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Information from: Minot Daily News, https://www.minotdailynews.com

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