Researchers who estimate Minot's 2012 population at nearly 49,000 also project growth of 9 to 23 percent over the next few years, depending on the forecast model.
The Impact Assessment Group at North Dakota State University, Fargo, released its population study findings to Task Force 21 and the Minot Area Chamber of Commerce Thursday. Some legislators and area city officials attended the presentation.
Minot could reach a population of 60,021 by 2017 under one scenario that considers housing already built or the planning stage.
"This is a good snapshot of not 'if' but 'when,'" presenter Nancy Hodur said.
The study also used an employment growth measure to estimate Minot's 2017 population at 53,208. The 2010 census counted 40,888 residents. New census figures released Thursday estimated 43,746 residents in July 2012.
Both the housing and employment models considered the service population, which includes both permanent and temporary residents. The study determined that Minot residents tend to live in traditional housing arrangements, making it difficult to distinguish between permanent and temporary. However, of the nearly 49,000 residents estimated to be living in Minot last year, the employment model suggests nearly 43,000 were permanent residents.
Combined with Burlington, Surrey and 12 surrounding townships, but excluding Minot Air Force Base, Minot's service area was forecasted at 65,942 residents under the employment model and 79,462 residents under the housing model for 2017.
"Both models suggest that you have a high demand for housing and substantial population increases," Hodur said. "We made some assumptions about how rapidly it will build out, but when this is built out, there will be a substantially larger community here than there has been in the past."
The housing model projected a small amount of growth in the rural areas but tremendous growth in Minot, Burlington and Surrey.
Based on existing housing and proposed housing developments that could be built over the next five years, Burlington could go from a 2010 population of 1,060 to a population of 6,638 in 2017. Housing units would increase from 410 to 3,176.
Surrey could grow from 934 residents in 2010 to 4,658 residents in 2017. This assumes a housing increase from 335 units to 1,361 units.
The study showed 2,589 housing units constructed in Minot from 2010 to 2012 and another 6,889 housing units platted and approved but not yet completed. The projection is that Minot's housing units could increase from 18,744 in 2010 to 28,222 by 2017.
Because the housing model showed a somewhat larger population than the employment model, the implication is that Minot may capture a larger share of the population working in the region than it traditionally has, Hodur said.
"We don't know exactly if the people will live where the jobs are. It may end up that Minot may absorb a higher percentage because the people will prefer to live in Minot," Hodur said.
Jobs in the petroleum sector are forecast to grow for another eight to 10 years before declining and stabilizing, according to the study. Hodur said the data doesn't account for a newer forecast that increased the assessment of the amount of recoverable oil reserves in the Bakken.
Minot Mayor Curt Zimbelman said the study results fall in line with the city's estimate that there are nearly 50,000 people living in Minot today. He said the city will be ready for the growth as it comes.
"I am a little concerned with the infrastructure costs and doing it as quickly as we have to," he said, although he added that the infrastructure being built will accommodate growth well past 2017.
"It gives us some idea of what we are charged with," Mark Jantzer, city council member said of the study results. The projected growth will mean more demand for city services, such as water, sewer, garbage pickup and police and fire protection.
"It's a big challenge," Jantzer said, "but I think we are up to the task."