Migration & North Dakota in 2018

Immigration, legal and illegal, is clearly a hot story in the news these days. North Dakota is on an international border but it seems that even here the circumstances on the US-Mexico border are of more concern than any impending inflow of Canadians. More on that in another post. It is time to consider some numbers.

There are multiple definitions of migration to consider in this post. The unit of analysis will be counties in the state of North Dakota. The measures are all net migration, that is the balance of inflow less outflow. So that is two flows to consider, but we will add another wrinkle. The migration can be domestic in nature, that is from other areas within the US, or it can be international.

Why this breakout? Why not? Just kidding, the real reason is the movements of people within the state make this an interesting distinction. The domestic migration will include people moving into a given North Dakota county from outside the state, but still in the United States, as well as people moving into that county from other counties in North Dakota. Obviously in the latter case the state does not enjoy any net gain in population, it is only a reallocation of the population within the state. In a later post I will unpack the data to further delve into this type of distinction. For now, we are sticking with domestic and international.

So the overall net migration picture is not too much of a surprise:

The biggest county for net migration is Cass county. Not a surprise. In terms of anything in levels Cass is usually a leader given it is the largest county. What a surprise that the Bakken region is also on the positive side of net migration! (Yes that is sarcasm, yet another service I provide.) What is most notable here is probably Ward county as the really cool spot for significant negative net migration. This is a bit of a surprise since Ward has, at some level, been a gateway county for the Bakken region given the location of Minot in the county. This is definitely something to look at and consider because there could be so many reasons for it including more options for residing in the Bakken area, economic downsizing in the county, military reasons, and so on.

So now let’s consider the breakdown into international and domestic migration and see if there are distinctions.

On the domestic side the real hot spot is the Bakken region, which is not too much of a surprise. Ward county is a real cool spot in terms of domestic migration while, something of a surprise we see Grand Forks is as well. Cass is another area with relatively strong domestic net migration. This is actually a really interesting look since it is a bit of a surprise in terms of who loses, at least slightly, while others have stronger migration.

Most of the counties are slightly positive in international migration but there is only one really strong area and that is Cass county. The major metro area counties have relatively higher international net migration but what is a real surprise here is the lack of international net migration into the Bakken area. The inflow of population into the Bakken area seems to be pretty exclusively domestic net migration.

North Dakota grew in population in recent years and not surprisingly net migration was a positive. The split of the population between domestic and international net migration, and the areas in the state attracting each type, were an interesting geographic contrast in the last year.

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