It is a constant refrain on my part. Population is the key. This is true if I am in class teaching undergraduate or graduate students, on the radio talking with JT or the public, or in casual conversation with family or friends. Population is a key to growth, and I think most people get it. The problem is arriving at a policy that encourages sustainable population growth. North Dakota has more jobs than unemployed, and has had the problem for a long time, indicating an issue with attracting in-migration in needed numbers. Neither have we seen a demographic change in births or mortality sufficient to overcome these problems.
JT tends to ask me the following question: “What worries me about the outlook for ND?” Over the last few years I answered that there was not much. That was then, this is now. North Dakota hit its first oil price catastrophe for this round of the oil boom and we are watching to see the consequences. One of the issues that worries me has to do with the demographics for the state as a whole. In this piece I will focus on the 65-and-over population and later on we can talk about other dimensions.