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More men in Bakken: State’s influx of males smaller than other booms

The rush of men to North Dakota caused by Bakken oil development has been less impactful than comparable booms in Alaska and Colorado, according to a new Pew Research Center report.

Still, because a majority of oil workers are male, North Dakota now lags behind only Alaska in concentration of men.

About 51 percent of the North Dakota’s residents are men, while 49 percent are female. In Alaska, 52 percent of the population is male, according to Pew’s data.

Men outnumber women in only 10 states, according to American FactFinder population estimates.

About 46,000 men moved to North Dakota from 2009 to 2013, representing a 14 percent increase. About 30,000 women came during the same period — a 9 percent rise.

Jens Manuel Krogstad, who authored the report, said women can be attracted to booms for a variety of reasons, including moving with their families.

“If you have a boom in one industry, like oil, you’re going to need new services to service that population — whether restaurants or health care,” Krogstad said. “You’re going to need workers of all types — not just oil workers.”

Colorado’s silver rush starting in the 1870s saw about 106,000 men come to the state, representing a 448 percent jump. During a 30-year period, women also arrived in massive numbers — about 49,000, or 324 percent — still dwarfed by the men.

It took 20 years for women to finally overtake men in the state, according to Pew.

Nearly 40 years ago, men poured into Alaska to build the Trans-Alaska oil pipeline.

During a 10-year period, about 51,000 men arrived in the state, or a 31 percent increase. Women far exceeded men in that boom, with about 60,000 settling down in Alaska during the same time.

In total numbers, North Dakota’s influx of people may exceed these other booms in the future, Krogstad said. But the relatively small size of populations prior to the booms in Colorado and Alaska meant greater social upheavals than North Dakota’s case, he said.

No reliable population estimates are available for California’s 1849 gold rush, according to Pew.

Krogstad said demographic researchers are also paying attention to marked age differences caused by the boom.

Gender relations have become stressed as the ratio between men and women has become unbalanced, Krogstad said.

Madison Johnson, a junior at Dickinson High School, said she does not like how crowded the state is becoming with men.

“It’s getting creepy here. My mom won’t even let me go to Walmart because some guy followed her when she was there,” Johnson said.

Divorced Mac McCollum, night manager for Dickinson’s Tiger Discount truck stop, said he sometimes sees men discouraged because of a lack of women their own age.

“Most of the oil drillers and everyone else that’s new working out here, they’re looking for younger women and they’re upset when they don’t find them,” McCollum said.