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Moorhead, Minnesota

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The location of Moorhead

Census Data for Moorhead ...

Population ...

The most recent Census Estimate<1> was for 2018 and it gave Moorhead a population of 43,349 people.

The last Decennial Census<2> was in 2010, which gave Moorhead a population of 38,065 people.

The city of Moorhead is located in Clay County. The 2010 Census gave Clay County a population of 58,999 people. This means that Moorhead had 64.5% of the county's total population, making it Clay's most populous community.

At the same time, Minnesota had a population of 5,303,925 people, meaning that Moorhead had 0.72% of the total population of Minnesota - making it the state's 22nd most populous community.

Area ...

When the Census Bureau conducts a census for a city like Moorhead, they draw a boundary around the area in which they are going to conduct their count - this defines the sampling area (usually shaped as a polygon). The shape of the sampling area can be quite complex and it's important to keep in mind that the boundaries of the sampling area may or may not match the recognized boundaries of the city.

Things like the population, area and housing for Moorhead reflect the sampling area. Since the shape of the sampling area and the actual boundaries of Moorhead might be different, it's best to check with the U.S. Census Bureau to resolve any difference between the two.

The 2010 Census shows that the sampling area for Moorhead has a total area of 19.8 square miles [51.3 km²].

Clay County has a land area of 1,045 square miles [2,707.5 km²]. At 19.8 square miles [51.3 km²], Moorhead has 1.89% of the county's total land area.

Not only does the sampling area define boundaries, it also has a GPS location (latitude & longitude) that indicates a point within the sampling area (usually the center of the polygon, known as the centroid). At the time of the 2010 Census, the sampling area was located at:

Lat:   46° 51' 31"   (or 46.86°)             [Map]

Lon:   -96° 44' 32"   (or -96.74°)

More information on this topic and the changes between the 2000 Census and the 2010 Census can be found in the section for our Census-to-Census Observations ... (see below).

Population Density ...

Using the population (38,065 people) and land area (19.8 square miles [51.3 km²]) values from the 2010 Census, Moorhead had a population density of 1,922 people per square mile [742 people/km²].

In comparison, the 2000 Census shows Moorhead had a population of 32,177 people and a land area of 13.44 square miles [34.8 km²]. This gives a population density of 2,394 people per square mile [924 people/km²]

NOTE: Be aware that when comparing population density between the 2000 Census and the 2010 Census, there were changes in the sampling area for Moorhead. You need to be careful when making such a comparison, the differences are likely to lead to an apple-to-oranges comparison. More information about the nature of these changes can be found in the section Census-to-Census Observations ... (see below).

Housing Units ...

At the time of the 2010 Census, Moorhead had 15,274 Housing Units<3> and with its population of 38,065 people, this averages 2.49 people per Housing Unit.

The 2010 Census shows Moorhead had a land area of 19.8 square miles [51.3 km²]. This translates to 771 Housing Units per square mile [297.8 housing units/km²].

From the Census of 2000: Moorhead had 12,180 Housing Units, a population of 32,177 people and a land area of 13.44 square miles [34.8 km²]. This gives a density of 2.64 people per Housing Unit and 906 Housing Units per square mile [349.9 housing units/km²].

NOTE: Repeating the caution above (under Population Density), be aware that when comparing Housing Units between the 2000 Census and the 2010 Census, there were changes in the sampling area for Moorhead and you need to be careful when comparing between the censuses. More information about these differences can be found in the section called Census-to-Census Observations ... (see below).

Clay County ...

The community of Moorhead is located in Clay County and is the County Seat for Clay County.

The county had a population of 58,999 people at the 2010 Census. With it's population of 38,065 people, Moorhead represented 64.5% of the county's total.

In addition, where the city of Moorhead has a population density of 1,922 people per square mile [742 people/km²], Clay County averages 56.4 people per square mile [21.79 people/km²].

For more information, please visit our Census Page for Clay County.

Population Rings for Moorhead ...

To help identify the number of people who live in Moorhead and the surrounding area, we have drawn concentric rings centered on Moorhead. We counted the number of communities within each ring and summed their populations.<4>

  Radius   No of
  Since 2010    
5 mi   [8 km]6172,978+16.88%
10 mi   [16 km]13215,860+20.28%
15 mi   [24 km]17217,516+20.34%
20 mi   [32 km]24221,704+20.03%
25 mi   [40 km]32227,636+19.55%
30 mi   [48 km]41230,515+19.29%

Census-to-Census Observations ...

Introduction ...

When the Census Bureau takes a census count (or enumeration) for Moorhead, they start by specifying the boundaries of the area to be counted. This area (or sampling area) is a polygon and its shape can be quite complex - it may or may not match the geographical boundaries of Moorhead. It's important to note that from one Census to the next, the shape and location of the polygon can change. If you need precision or details about the methodology of the Census, you should visit the U.S. Census Bureau for a definitive answer.

Area ...

The sampling area (or polygon) given for the 2010 Census is 47.35% larger than the 2000 Census.

The 2010 Census shows that the total area for Moorhead was 19.8 square miles [51.3 km²]. Of this total, only a minor amount of the area is covered by water.

The 2000 Census shows a total area of 13.44 square miles [34.8 km²]. Of this total, only a minor amount of the area is covered by water.

Location ...

While generally coinciding with the GPS location (latitude/longitude) of Moorhead, the latitude and longitude given by the Census Bureau actually indicates the GPS location of the polygon for Moorhead.

For the 2010 Census, the location was given as:

Lat:   46.858719°   (or 46°51'31" N)             [Map]

Lon:   -96.742467°   (or -96°44'32" W)

For the 2000 Census, the location given was:

Lat:   46.864563°   (or 46°51'52" N)             [Map]

Lon:   -96.758707°   (or -96°45'31" W)

The difference indicates that the U.S. Census Bureau moved the location of the polygon for the 2010 Census 4,574 feet to the southeast<5> of the location that was used in the 2000 Census.

The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and the U.S. Board on Geographic Names (BGN) have assigned a unique GNIS identifier (#2395392) to Moorhead. This identifier also marks a GSP point on the map, and that point lies within the boundaries of Moorhead. The GNIS point has been mapped to the latitude/longitude:

Lat:   46.858680°   (or 46°51'31" N)             [Map]

Lon:   -96.742587°   (or -96°44'33" W)

The GSP location given for the 2010 Census lies 33.12 feet to the northeast<6> of the point given by the GNIS for Moorhead. For more information about this and the relationship of the various Federal Codes, please visit our Misc Page for Moorhead.

Miscellaneous Information for Moorhead ...

The Federal government has assigned various identifying codes to each community, county and state. At one time or another, the US Census Bureau has used one (or more) of the following identifiers when referring to either Clay County or the city of Moorhead:

The GNIS Codes ...

The current system of identification is called the Geographic Names Information System (GNIS). The following GNIS codes relate to Moorhead:

GNIS ID for Moorhead: 2395392

GNIS ID for Clay County: 659459

GNIS ID for Minnesota: 662849

The FIPS Codes ...

An earlier (and largely obsolete) identification method was called the Federal Information Processing Standard (FIPS):

State Code: 27 (Minnesota)

County Code: 027 (Clay County)

Place Code: 43864 (Moorhead)

State & County Code: 27/027 (Minnesota / Clay County)

State & Place Code: 27/43864 (Minnesota / Moorhead)

Misc. Census Codes ...

Moorhead is located in Census Region #2 (the Midwest Region) and Division #4 (the West North-Central Division).

The US Postal Service ZIP Code ...

While some people have used a ZIP code to identify a community, the purpose of the ZIP code was to make mail delivery more efficient by grouping addresses together. Although the ZIP Code doesn't specifically identify a city like Moorhead, it does identify addresses that are in (or near) Moorhead. It's important to remember that the boundaries of a ZIP Code can be changed, re-assigned or overlapped with other ZIP Codes.

The ZIP code for Moorhead: 56560-56563<7>

Census ZCTA Codes ...

The US Census Bureau created statistical entities that they call ZIP Code Tabulation Areas (ZCTAs) and these ZCTAs are frequently confused with the ZIP codes that come from the US Postal Service (USPS).

ZCTAs were first created for the 2000 Census and at that time, they were based upon the USPS ZIP codes. While largely covering the same areas, the boundaries of a ZCTA do not necessarily match the boundaries of a postal ZIP code with the same number. For example, while a postal ZIP code can cross a county or state line, a Census ZCTA can not. They should be treated as separate entities with no correlation between them.

For more information about the various Federal identification codes, please visit our Misc Page for Moorhead.

Other Roadside Stops ...

Index of Cities, Towns and Villages for Minnesota

About Clay County

About Minnesota

Off-the-Road Links ...

The official website of the U.S. Census Bureau

The official website for Moorhead:

The official website for Clay County:

The official website for State of Minnesota:

The official website of the U.S. Board on Geographic Names (BGN)

The official website of the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS)

Footnotes ...

<1>Every year, the US Census Bureau creates a population estimate for the preceeding year. Keep in mind that this value is an estimate and not an actual count. The most recent Census estimate is for the year 2018.

- Return to Citation

<2>Every 10 years (eg- 1990, 2000, 2010), the US Census Bureau conducts a Constitutionally-mandated count (or enumeration) of people living within the United States. This count is called a Decennial Census. The last Decennial Census was the 2010 Census, with the next one planned for 2020.

- Return to Citation

<3>A Housing Unit is a broad term for those places where people live (whether occupied or temporarily vacant), such as a house, an apartment, a mobile home, or an area that is considered as a separate living quarter. Separate living quarters (consisting of one or more rooms) are considered to be those places where people live, sleep and eat separately from others and that have access to the outside (either directly or by a shared hallway).

- Return to Citation

<4>The communities in our count are those provided by the 2010 Census, so keep in mind that our population rings will only include the people living in those communities. Smaller communities usually don't participate directly in the Census and therefore they won't be included. While our count is a close approximation, it shouldn't be considered as a complete or accurate count.

- Return to Citation

<5>The calculated bearing (or angle) to the 2010 Census location is 242 degrees and a distance of 4,574 feet.

- Return to Citation

<6>The calculated bearing (or angle) to the GNIS point is 295 degrees and a distance of 33.12 feet.

- Return to Citation

<7>When looking for a ZIP Code, whether Moorhead or elsewhere, it's always best to check the website of the United States Postal Service (USPS).

- Return to Citation






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This page was last modified: 27 Aug 2019