Discover Five North Dakota Counties With the Fastest Population Decrease


North Dakota is located in the upper Midwest, near Canada and Minnesota. It boasts a large agricultural sector, a thriving oil and gas industry, and expansive, uncrowded landscapes.

Nonetheless, North Dakota has hurdles in balancing population expansion with a high level of life. According to U.S. Census Bureau estimates, 3,982 more people lived in North Dakota between 2018 and 2019, however, there was a 0.2% reduction from 2020 to 2021.

A combination of declining employment and oil and gas earnings resulted in the first yearly population reduction since 2009. This influenced several North Dakota counties, even some tiny ones.

Here, we’ll look at the five counties with the most substantial population declines in recent years.

1. Grant County

This county’s population was 2,274 in 2010, and it stayed the same in 2020, suggesting a 0.05% reduction. The lack of economic diversification and opportunities, along with the country’s significant reliance on agriculture and mining, is the primary reason of the downturn.

Grant City is the county seat and ranks third in size. This county has a diversified population, including 67.8% white, 28.9% American Indian, 0.4% black or African American, 0.4% Asian, and 1% mixed ethnic.

2. Burke County

With only a 0.15 percent decrease, the population of this county stayed constant from 2,270 in 2010 to 2,270 in 2020. Despite its small size, this drop is significant when compared to other counties of similar sizes. The decrease is mostly due to the exploitation of petroleum and natural gas.

Burke City, the county seat and fourth-largest city, with a population of 97 percent white and zero American Indians. The bulk of the county’s residents live outside of it, making it sparsely populated and predominantly rural.

3. Rolette County

In 2010, there were 11,662 people residing in this county, but by 2020, the figure had reduced to 11,650, a 0.32% decrease. The closing of the oil and gas sector has resulted in employment and revenue losses in several of North Dakota’s rural counties.

Rolla is the largest and most significant city in the county. The local population’s racial composition is diversified, with 77.2% American Indian, 20.3% white, 0.2% black or African American, 0.1% Asian, and 2.1% mixed race.

4. Benson County

Between 2010 and 2020, the population of this county decreased by 0.13%, but remained stable at 5,754. The population is aging, which is causing the decline. The state has lower birth rates and greater life expectancy than this region.

Benson is the county’s second-largest city and also serves as its major city. Almost all of the county’s residents are white (98.9%), with only a small percentage (0.1%) identifying as American Indian. The oil and gas industry accounts for the majority of the country’s riches, making it well-known across the world.

5. Divide County

Divide County, like four other North Dakota counties, saw substantial population declines between 2010 and 2020. Divide County’s population is expected to reach 2,231 in 2023, up 0.54% from the previous year, according to the US Census Bureau.

However, at 1.5%, it is less than the state average and 1.1% less than the national rate. Maintaining and improving the quality of life in Divide County is proving difficult. To address these issues, the county may need to raise its expenditure on healthcare, education, infrastructure, and innovation.


In conclusion, North Dakota confronts difficulty in maintaining population growth, particularly in counties such as Grant, Burke, Rolette, Benson, and Divide. Economic dependence on agricultural and oil sectors, along with an aging population, contribute to reductions. Addressing these concerns necessitates a wide range of economic possibilities as well as investments in healthcare, education, infrastructure, and innovation to improve overall living standards.

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