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N. D. Housing Units Continue to Rise Despite Little Change in Population

In 1950, North Dakota’s average household size was 3.7 people, compared with 2.3 people in 2007.

North Dakota’s population has seen relatively little change during the past 57 years. However, the number of housing units in North Dakota has grown 77 percent since 1950.

This month’s “Population Bulletin,” a monthly publication from the North Dakota State Data Center at North Dakota State University, presents the July 1, 2007, housing unit estimates released from the U.S. Census Bureau’s Population Division.

These estimates reveal a continuing increase in the number of North Dakota housing units. In 1950, housing units totaled 175,769, compared with 289,677 in 2000. This represents a 65 percent increase during this 50-year period. Current estimates suggest another 7 percent growth from 2000 to 2007, reaching 310,548 housing units.

In contrast, the state’s population grew 4 percent from 1950 to 2000, but dropped by less than 1 percent from 2000 to 2007.

Changes in household composition help explain the apparent contradiction between a stable population and a substantial increase in housing. In 1950, people living alone comprised 9 percent of all households. By 2007, that percentage more than tripled to 32 percent.

With more people living by themselves, North Dakota’s average household size has declined. In 1950, North Dakota’s average household size was 3.7 people, compared with 2.3 people in 2007 (the lowest among all 50 states). Although a drop from 3.7 to 2.3 people per household may not sound impressive, it is substantial when you realize there were 271,724 households (occupied housing units) in the state in 2007.

This means that if North Dakota had the same household size in 2007 as it did in 1950, the state’s population would be at 1,007,702 people, compared with the 639,715 people reported by the Census Bureau.

“This is a situation that many people have difficulty understanding,” says Richard Rathge, State Data Center director. “They see housing growth and assume the population is growing correspondingly, which is not necessarily the case.”

Larger metropolitan areas are the largest contributors to growth in housing throughout the state. From 2000 to 2007, 70 percent of all growth statewide was attributed to Cass and Burleigh counties.

Nationally, housing grew 10 percent from 2000 through 2007, with states in the southwest and southeast having the largest percentage gains.

NDSU Agriculture Communication

Source:Richard Rathge, (701) 231-8621, richard.rathge@ndsu.edu
Editor:Rich Mattern, (701) 231-6136, richard.mattern@ndsu.edu


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