Someone noted this list is quite a bit different than an earlier list from another source earlier this month. The difference in the list has to do with the size of the towns. In the earlier list, Williston did not make the cut due to size of the city; Fargo and Bismarck both made the cut.
This newest list from Forbes appears to be of towns with smaller populations.
The West Texas community of Pecos comes in at No. 2 on our list with a 23.2% increase in population to 13,783. Some of those people aren’t there voluntarily: The MSA is home to the Reeves County Detention Complex, a privately run inmate facility with a capacity of 3,760. In 2007, the complex entered into a contract with the Federal Bureau of Prisons to house up to 2,407 criminal aliens for at least four years.
Another factor in Pecos’ expansion: a boom in oil and gas drilling enabled by fracking.
“We’ve had 39 drilling rigs running at a time in the county, with motels running at 100% occupancy—and four new hotels built in three years,” says Bill Ogelsby, head of the Pecos Economic Development Corporation. Temporary residents who come for work sometimes bunk at hotels for months at a time, he says, which may have contributed to higher population counts.
Expanded oil drilling is also driving the economy in North Dakota—especially in small towns like Williston, which comes in at No. 6 on our list, where the population jumped by 14.6% to 22,398. The area’s unemployment rate is a shockingly low 0.9%, with a median income of $55,396.