MINOT,N.D. (AP) – New census figures estimate that North Dakota’s fastest-growing cities are in the western oil patch. The U.S. Census Bureau data show that Watford City and Williston grew about 9 percent last year, tops in the state. Growth in Fargo and Bismarck was less than 2 percent, while Grand Forks saw a slight decline. Minot grew by about 3 percent, giving it a July 2011 population of just under 43,000. People are streaming into western North Dakota because of the oil boom. State Commerce Department census official Rod Backman says that estimates for western cities are low compared to what communities in the oil patch believe they are experiencing. Backman says as many as 24,000 people in crew camps might not be officially counted.
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