Bond Buyer 2/14/14 By Kyle Glazier

WASHINGTON — Energy production is driving explosive population growth in states such as North Dakota, while other economic and demographic factors are constraining the growth of states such as West Virginia, according to a Fitch Ratings report released Friday.

The Fitch report takes a closer look at the updated population figures released by the U.S. Census Bureau in December, noting that many western states with strong energy production industries were among the biggest population gainers from 2012 to 2013. Population growth is a positive factor analysts consider when evaluating a state because it indicates an expanding economy and tax base, Fitch said. Total population is also tied directly to how much of private activity bonds the Internal Revenue Service allows a state or territory to issue. The 2014 volume caps are the greater of $100 per capita or $296.83 million,

“Western and southern states were the fastest-growing states in the U.S. between 2012 and 2013, with Utah, Colorado, Texas and Nevada rounding out the top five behind North Dakota,” Fitch analysts wrote. “One commonality among four of the five is robust energy production.”

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