The Glasgow Courier - Serving Proudly As The Voice Of Valley County Since 1913

By Samar Fay
Courier Editor 

Numbers In: Boom Driving Growth

Population Increases Rapidly In Much Of NE Montana, But Not As Fast In Valley County


Newly released county population estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau show significant growth in Montana’s northeastern oil patch during the past year, 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, Fallon, Roosevelt and Dawson – grew about 3 percent in the past year. Wibaux, although small in population, experienced a 7.1 percent growth. Roosevelt’s 3.6 percent growth ranks it fourth in northeast Montana last year.

Other counties in northeast Montana on the outer edge of the oil patch showed much smaller growth. Valley County grew .3 percent in the last year. Daniels County showed .8 percent growth.

The actual population increases for these counties, listed in decreasing order of the percentage of growth: Wibaux – 70, Richland – 667, Sheridan – 136, Roosevelt – 383, Fallon – 100, Dawson – 250, Daniels – 14, Valley – 25.

Richland County was fourth in the state in actual population growth, after Yellowstone, Gallatin and Missoula counties. Roosevelt was seventh and Dawson was eighth.

“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.”

In 2011, total employment from all U.S. business sectors was 113.4 million, an increase of 1.5 million employees from 2010, according to new statistics released April 30 by the U.S. Census Bureau. The mining, quarrying, and oil and gas extraction sector led the way with a 12.0 percent increase in employment from 2010 to 2011. This year is the first since 2008 in which U.S. businesses reported an increase in employment over the prior year.

North Dakota showed the largest percentage rise in the number of establishments, total number of employees and total payroll for any state in 2011. There were 22,370 establishments in North Dakota in 2011, an increase of 538 (2.5 percent) from 2010. There were 306,064 employees in North Dakota in 2011, an increase of 11,157 (3.8 percent) from 2010. Annual payroll was at $12.3 billion, up $1.7 billion (16.5 percent) from 2010.

In central and western Montana, 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.

For more information contact UM’s Bureau of Business and Economic Research at 406-243-5113 or visit


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