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UM News
May 02, 2013

MISSOULA – Newly released county population estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau show significant growth in Montana’s northeastern oil patch, according to a University of Montana researcher.

Jim Sylvester, an economist at UM’s Bureau of Business and Economic Research, said that Richland County, which contains Sidney, was among the fastest growing counties in the country with estimated growth of 6.6 percent during the past year. Other nearby counties –Sheridan, Wibaux, Fallon, Roosevelt and Dawson – grew about 3 percent in the past year.

“Net in-migration was the driving factor for those counties influenced by the Bakken oil fields,” Sylvester said. “People are moving into these areas for jobs related to energy development and related services.”

Gallatin and Yellowstone counties led the growth in urban counties, with 1.4 percent and 1.3 percent, respectively. Lewis and Clark County grew about 1 percent, followed by Missoula (0.8 percent), Flathead (0.5 percent) and Ravalli (0.5 percent). Very little growth occurred in Butte-Silver Bow and Cascade counties.

Counties that experienced high rates of migration in the past decade (Gallatin, Flathead and Ravalli) had much lower rates of migration between 2011 and 2012. Natural increase, more births than deaths, was about the same as migration.

The U.S. Census Bureau uses births, deaths and estimates of migration from IRS records to estimate the population of states and counties on an annual basis.

10 Montana counties with the largest population growth 2011-2012

2011

2012

Change

Percent

Numerical

Yellowstone County

149,907

151,882

1.3%

1,975

Gallatin County

91,354

92,614

1.4%

1,260

Missoula County

110,114

110,977

0.8%

863

Richland County

10,143

10,810

6.6%

667

Lewis and Clark County

64,240

64,876

1.0%

636

Flathead County

91,132

91,633

0.5%

501

Roosevelt County

10,544

10,927

3.6%

383

Dawson County

8,999

9,249

2.8%

250

Ravalli County

40,422

40,617

0.5%

195

Beaverhead County

9,191

9,346

1.7%

155

For more information contact UM’s Bureau of Business and Economic Research at 406-243-5113 or visit http://www.bber.umt.edu/.

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Contact: Jim Sylvester, director of survey operations, UM Bureau of Business and Economic Research, 406-243-5113, jim.sylvester@business.umt.edu.