North Dakota, D.C. fastest-growing areas in U.S.

A decade or two ago, people and businesses were fleeing North Dakota and the District of Columbia as fast as possible. Now, these areas are economic magnets.

How times change. Until recently, North Dakota was seen as a cold, blustery farmbelt state with towns and cities being abandoned as fast as young generations could leave. The District of Columbia was being written off as a declining urban basket case. Today, they're the two fastest-growing entities within the United States.

The U.S. Census Bureau just reported that North Dakota's total population climbed by 2.17% between July 1, 2011, and July 1, 2012 -- reflecting the fastest growth of any state, and nearly three times faster than the nation as a whole.

North Dakota has been experiencing the most significant energy boom seen in the U.S. in a generation. More than 700,000 barrels of oil a day are being extracted from the state's Bakken region, up more than 50% from a year ago.

Following North Dakota in terms of percent increase over the same period were the District of Columbia at 2.15%. The nation's capital benefits from tax dollars of course, and its economy of government, government contractors, consultants, associations and think tanks is a huge attraction for knowledge workers. Other fast-growing states include Texas, Wyoming, Utah and Nevada.

North Dakota ranked only 37th in growth between the 2000 and 2010 censuses and climbed to sixth between 2010 and 2011. Each of the 10 fastest-growing states were in the South or West with the exception of North Dakota and South Dakota.

The United States as a whole saw its population increase by 2.3 million from 2011 to 2012, to 313.9 million, for a growth rate of 0.75%.

In absolute numbers, Texas gained more people than any other state, gaining 427,400 residents. California followed with a net gain of 357,500, Florida with 235,300, Georgia with 107,500 and North Carolina with 101,000. These five states combined accounted for more than half of the nation's total population growth, the Census Bureau says.

California remained the most populous state, with a July 1 population of 38.0 million. Rounding out the top five states were Texas (26.1 million), New York (19.6 million), Florida (19.3 million) and Illinois (12.9 million).

The only two states to lose population between July 1, 2011, and July 1, 2012, were Rhode Island (-354 or -0.03 percent) and Vermont (-581 or -0.09 percent).

The 10 Fastest-Growing States from July 1, 2011, to July 1, 2012
Percent Change
1. North Dakota 2.17%
2. District of Columbia 2.15%
3. Texas 1.67%
4. Wyoming 1.60%
5. Utah 1.45%
6. Nevada 1.43%
7. Colorado 1.39%
8. Arizona 1.33%
9. Florida 1.23%
10. South Dakota 1.19%
The 10 States with the Largest Population Increase
from July 1, 2011, to July 1, 2012
Numeric Change
1. Texas 427,400
2. California 357,500
3. Florida 235,300
4. Georgia 107,500
5. North Carolina 101,000
6. Arizona 86,000
7. Virginia 81,500
8. Washington 73,700
9. Colorado 71,300
10. New York 68,600

(Source: US Census Bureau.)

(Photo: Joe McKendrick.)

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