- Associated Press - Tuesday, March 27, 2018

MINOT, N.D. (AP) - New data estimates indicate a slowdown in activity in North Dakota’s oil patch has led to a reduction in the population in the area.

The U.S. Census Bureau figures show Minot’s “micropolitan” area shrunk by 1.7 percent in the fiscal year that ended on July 1, 2017, losing an estimated 1,355 residents in its three counties: Ward, Renville and McHenry. Micropolitan areas have populations of at least 10,000 but fewer than 50,000.

The number of births in the counties has been dropping after hitting a high of 1,396 in the fiscal year that ended in July 2015. The 1,260 births in the year ended July 2017 in Minot’s “micropolitan” area still exceeded the number of deaths.

But that gain was offset by net migration, which the Census Bureau estimated at a loss of 2,112 residents in 2016 and another 2,062 residents in 2017. Net migration comprises those moving within the United States and those who move from the U.S. to another country.

Kevin Iverson is the state census director with the North Dakota Department of Commerce. He told the Minot Daily News that he believes the period of out-migration in the oil patch, in the northwestern part of the state, had finished.

Iverson said population change tends to follow the economy, with about a six-month lag. A Bureau of Economic Analysis report on state Gross Domestic Product shows a negative quarter for North Dakota in early 2017, which was followed by a couple of stronger quarters.

“I would expect we are going to see little change to some growth when we look at this next year,” Iverson said.

Iverson said the census figures show small counties in the state, including Benson, Eddy, Kidder, Sheridan and Towner, saw an increase in population.

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Corrects story to show that the Minot area lost an estimated 1,355 residents, not more than 77,000.

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

Copyright © 2018 The Washington Times, LLC.

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