According to U.S. Census figures and research from the state’s economic analysis division, Wyoming continues to grow despite a statewide mineral extraction slowdown.

Officials say Wyoming saw an estimated population increase of 1.6 percent in 2012. That’s the fourth-highest estimated increase in the nation, only behind North Dakota (2.2 percent), Washington D.C. (2.1 percent) and Texas (1.7 percent).

Wenlin Liu, Wyoming’s senior economist, says Natrona County saw the biggest population increase last year.

“Three percent – that’s the highest in Wyoming, and actually, that’s almost the highest in the nation,” Liu said. “The main reason is that Natrona County, and particularly Casper, is a service center in the region.”

Liu says mineral extraction is still fueling the state’s growth. He says a lack of mineral extraction in some counties led to some regional population decreases, however.

“About five counties slightly lost population, and, traditionally, these small and rural counties without much mineral extraction have very slow population increases, so they may lose people,” Liu said.

Weston County, Niobrara County, Carbon County, Washakie County and Lincoln County had estimated population declines last year. At 1.3 percent, Niobrara County had the steepest population decline.

There was no population change in Johnson County.

Natrona County’s three percent population increase led the state, followed by Sweetwater County’s 2.7 percent increase, Sublette County’s 2.5 percent increase and Laramie County’s 2.1 percent increase.

The U.S. Census Bureau estimates Wyoming’s current population at 576,412 people.