The Census Bureau released their latest population estimates by county for the US which includes mid-year estimates for 2018. The state has 760,077 people, which seems to be an all time high. As with all things the distribution matters too. First off, here is the total population change by county:
Not a real surprise if you ask me. Cass County is the big change county at more than 3,000 added. The Bakken region is the next up in that regard, with only a few counties losing significant numbers. So let’s scale this change by the total county population. The percentage numbers tend to tell a different story.
This map tells a slightly different story. The largest percentage gains are clearly in the Bakken area while the North central part of the state seems to be the one losing the most people in percentage terms. Cass is still a growth county, but it is not the hot spot like we saw in absolute terms. Looking at this I am trying to decide how many clusters of growth counties there are. To me it looks like the state has three distinct regions but they are defined by diagonals. I will need to take a look at that latter with a different lens and maybe some clustering algorithms.
So the state is growing which is good. The distribution of population growth is pretty consistent with what we have seen in the recent past, which is mixed. Some of the growth areas are infrastructure constrained, for lack of a better term. The relatively fixed community capital of schools, housing, roads, and similar things makes accommodating rapid growth difficult, which is unfortunate. Some of these areas are likely leaving growth on the table, that is, missing out on their potential because they lack the capacity for further growth. Hopefully planning processes are attempting to play catch up and leap beyond to make the most of these opportunities.