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Census Bureau: Oil, Gas Boom Driving Western Oklahoma Population Growth

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The Elk City area was one of the fastest growing parts of the country over the July 1, 2011 to July 1, 2012, period, with its population increasing 3.5 percent, according to Census Bureau estimates released Thursday.

The data shows three areas in western Oklahoma -- Elk City, Weatherford and Woodward -- experienced rapid population growth.

The Census Bureau calls them micropolitan areas, which contain an urban cluster of between 10,000 and 49,999 people.

The Elk City-Weatherford-Woodward micropolitan areas came in seventh on a top 10 list.

"There are probably many factors fueling this growth on the prairie, but no doubt the energy boom is playing a role. For instance, the Permian Basin, located primarily in West Texas, and North Dakota accounted for almost half of the total U.S. growth in firms that mine or extract oil and gas, during a recent one-year period," said Thomas Mesenbourg, Census Bureau senior adviser.

The area of greatest growth stretches from North Dakota to West Texas. Others cities on the list include Williston, North Dakota, Junction City, Kansas, Vernal, Utah and Andrews, Texas.

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