From fewer than 3,000 people in 1870, North Dakota's population grew to near 680,000 by 1930. Growth then slowed, and the population has fluctuated slightly over the next seven decades, hitting a low of 617,761 in the 1970 census, with a total of 642,200 in the 2000 census. The United States Census Bureau, as of July 1, 2008, estimated North Dakota's population at 641,481, which represents a decrease of 714, or 0.1%, since the last census in 2000. This includes a natural increase since the last census of 20,460 people (that is 67,788 births minus 47,328 deaths) and a decrease due to net migration of 17,787 people out of the state. Immigration from outside the United States resulted in a net increase of 3,323 people, and migration within the country produced a net loss of 21,110 people. The age and gender distributions approximate the national average. Besides Native Americans, North Dakota's minority groups still form a significantly smaller proportion of the population than in the nation as a whole. The center of population of North Dakota is located in Wells County, near Sykeston.

Since the 1990s, North Dakota has experienced virtually constant decline in population, particularly among younger people with university degrees. One of the major causes of emigration in North Dakota looms from a lack of skilled jobs for graduates. Some propose the expansion of economic development programs to create skilled and high-tech jobs, but the effectiveness of such programs has been open to debate. As the issue is common to several High Plains states, federal politicians including Senator Byron Dorgan, have proposed The New Homestead Act of 2007 to encourage living in areas losing population through incentives such as tax breaks.

Most North Dakotans are of Northern European descent. The six largest ancestry groups in North Dakota are: German (46.6%) (298,779), Norwegian (30.4%) (194,886), Irish (8.3%) (52,925), French (4.8%) (30,571) and Swedish (4.5%) (29,098).

2.47% of the population aged 5 and older speak German at home, while 1.37% speak Spanish, 0.46% speak Norwegian, and 0.26% speak French according to the 2000 U.S. Census.

The state's racial composition in 2005 was:
• 92.3% White (non-Hispanic);
• 5.3% Native American/Alaskan Native;
• 1.6% Hispanic, a category that includes people of many races;
• 0.1% Asian/Pacific Islander;
• 0.1% Black (non-Hispanic);
• 0.1% mixed race.

Luciano Mende

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