Energy boom is fueling rapid population growth, Census data confirms

Rachel Stoltzfoos Staff Reporter
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New data released by the US Census Bureau shows the mining, quarrying, and oil and gas industry exploding in recent years and driving population growth.

Of the 10 fastest growing metropolitan and micropolitan areas in the US, more than half are in or near the Great Plains, including parts of Texas and North Dakota, which are rich in oil and gas.

Williston, North Dakota, has grown by an estimated 50 percent since 2007 — from about 19,000 to 30,000 — and is ranked the fastest growing micropolitan area in a Census Bureau analysis of population estimates released Thursday. It’s followed by Dickinson, North Dakota, and Andrews, Texas.

The Villages, Florida — a massive retirement community — grew by 5.2 percent and is the fastest growing metropolitan area. Other top growth areas include Odessa and Midland, Texas, and Bismarck and Fargo, North Dakota.

See a series of micropolitan and metropolitan rankings here.

Census Bureau Director John H. Thompson said the population growth seen in parts of the Great Plains is connected to the growth in the energy industry seen in economic census data released Tuesday. He said the energy boom on the Plains attracted job seekers from around the country. (Related: U.S. set for energy independence, while other countries set for dependence)

Revenue for the mining, quarrying, and oil and gas industry grew 34 percent to $555.2 billion from 2007 to 2012, according to the 2012 Economic Census Advance Report. Employment across the sector grew 23 percent to 903,841 jobs over the same five year period.

By comparison, employment dropped 5 and 15 percent in retail and manufacturing, respectively. And in the Health care and Social assistance sector it grew by 10 percent.

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