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20 ND counties see population growth

FARGO (AP) -- New census estimates show that 20 of the 53 North Dakota counties had population growth in 2009.

Cass County experienced the largest growth, with 3,123 people, followed by Burleigh with 1,377, Ward with 908 and Williams with 654.

Cass County is home to Fargo, Burleigh to Bismarck, Ward to Minot and Williams to Williston.

State Data Center Director Richard Rathge says the estimates point to an important trend. He says historically it's only been eastern North Dakota that has shown growth, but now growth also is happening in the west.

He credits jobs in the energy industry, along with a strong state economy and low unemployment rates.

North Dakota's net growth was 5,423 people, bringing the state's estimated population to 646,844.