BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — U.S. Census Bureau data show North Dakota is leading the nation in population growth and the number of residents in the state is at an all-time high.

The bureau’s most recent estimate released Tuesday put the state population at 756,927 in July, or an increase of 16,887 residents in one year.

Census data show North Dakota’s total population jumped 2.5 percent over the past year.

In the early 2000s, North Dakota was one of only a few states with a declining population. The state began to reverse that trend in 2004 because of increased oil activity, and the population has grown every year since.

Gov. Jack Dalrymple says the state’s economy and thousands of unfilled jobs are driving the population gains, despite a slowdown in drilling activity.

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