Posted 4/15/14 (Tue)
By Stephanie Norman
Farmer Staff Writer
McKenzie County snags the number one slot for the top 25 fast-growing non-metropolitan counties in the country.
If the traffic through town and the lack of affordable and sufficient housing wasn’t proof that the Bakken is booming, check out the 2010-2013 United States census data evidence.
According to the census, in 2010, the population of McKenzie County was 6,360. Last year, it was estimated at 9,314, which is a 46.45 percent increase in population within three years. There is no doubt this county is booming with oil and gas exploration.
“We want to capture workers and keep them here,” Dr. Dick Gardner, a representative from the Center of Rural Entrepreneurship, said. “This is an industry, not just a simple oil boom.”
He explained that oilfield and pipeline truck drivers typically live closer to town and make their way to the truck yards in the mornings. Whereas rig workers tend to reside on the outskirts with their families, closer to the rigs.
“You can really make a career of this industry,” Gardner said. “Traveling employees should really consider bringing their families and settling here.”
McKenzie County was not the only North Dakota county to rank in the top 25 flourishing places in the country. The state claims the top six places and four others down the list.
Following McKenzie County is Williams County with a 32.13 percent increase in population; Mountrail County with a 22.19 percent increase; Dunn County with a 17.70 percent increase; Burke County with a 17.17 percent increase; and in sixth place, Stark County with a 16.58 percent increase in population.
In 11th place is Divide County with an 11.73 percent increase, followed by Billings County with an 11.62 percent increase. Ward County saw a 10.24 percent increase, landing the 14th spot on the list and in 17th place is McHenry County with a 9.77 percent increase in population.
Dr. Gardner said throughout this oil boom, there have been “surges of activity instead of a wave of constant activity.”
“Land owners may not like this because they don’t want drilling on their land every three years,” Gardner said. “There is going to be a steep plateau and it’s going to stay that way for many years.”
In other parts of the country, towns are dwindling down to the bare minimums.
The census list of the top 25 “losing” counties did not list any North Dakota counties.
Blaine County in Oklahoma lost 2,223 residents over the past three years landing it the number one spot on the decline list.