According to recent data released by the United States Census Bureau, Williams County has had the fastest growing population percentage in America for the last two years.

In estimates released on Thursday, April 18, Williams County was ranked as the fastest-growing county with a population of 20,000 or more. Between 2017 and 2018, the Census Bureau reported an increase of 5.9 percent, from 33,395 people to 35,350. The Bureau attributed the rapid growth to net domestic migration in 2018, meaning more people moved into the county than moved out. Nearly 1,500 people moved to Williams County in 2018 alone.

Fastest growing counties, 2017-18

Field 1 Field 2 Field 3 Field 4 Field 5 Field 6
State County Population Estimate July 1, 2017 Population Estimate July 1, 2018 Change, 2017 to 2018: Number Change, 2017 to 2018: Percent
North Dakota Williams County 33,395 35,350 1,955 5.9
Texas Comal County 140,790 148,373 7,583 5.4
Texas Kaufman County 122,845 128,622 5,777 4.7
North Carolina Brunswick County 130,735 136,744 6,009 4.6
Florida Walton County 68,275 71,375 3,100 4.5
Florida Osceola County 352,661 367,990 15,329 4.3
Texas Midland County 165,386 172,578 7,192 4.3
Florida St. Johns County 243,928 254,261 10,333 4.2
Texas Hood County 58,154 60,537 2,383 4.1
Georgia Jackson County 67,716 70,422 2,706 4

Between 2010 and 2018, Williams County ranked number one in the country for largest percentage of growth for counties with a population of 20,000 people or more. The county showed a 57.8 percent increase in the population during those years, with Hays County, Texas coming in second at 41.7 percent growth. Utah and Florida round out the top five in terms of growth. Based on Census Bureau estimates, between April 1, 2010 and July 1, 2018, Williams County increased from 22,399 to 35,350 people.

Fastest growing counties, 2010-2018

Field 1 Field 2 Field 3 Field 4 Field 5 Field 6
State County Population Estimate April 1, 2010 Population Estimate July 1, 2018 Change, 2010 to 2018: Number Change, 2010 to 2018: Percent
North Dakota Williams County 22,399 35,350 12,951 57.8
Texas Hays County 157,099 222,631 65,532 41.7
Utah Wasatch County 23,525 33,240 9,715 41.3
Florida Sumter County 93,420 128,754 35,334 37.8
Florida Osceola County 268,683 367,990 99,307 37
Texas Comal County 108,485 148,373 39,888 36.8
Texas Kendall County 33,411 45,641 12,230 36.6
Iowa Dallas County 66,138 90,180 24,042 36.4
Georgia Forsyth County 175,511 236,612 61,101 34.8
Texas Fort Bend County 584,690 787,858 203,168 34.7

Factors that have contributed to this growth are domestic migration, natural increase, meaning having more births than deaths, and international migration. For Williams County, domestic migration appears to be the main factor for the population increase. Between 2017 and 2018, the county showed a natural increase of 427 people and 52 people due to international migration.

City leaders have often cited the ever-increasing population of the area in regards to policies and improvements made in Williston. In March, city leaders held a public meeting to discuss the growth and the need for housing to accommodate those moving to the area.

Development Services Director Mark Schneider explained at that meeting that housing has been an issue in Williston for some time and that a study done by the NDSU research center in 2016 showed just how drastic the housing issue could become if the numbers continue to increase, as the Census Bureau shows.

“In that study” Schneider explained, “They said that the area over in the western part of the state around Williston would grow by about 67 percent. If you equate roughly 30,000 people in Williston, North Dakota at that 67 percent growth, it turned out to be about 22,000 people over the next ten years.”

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