NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

North Dakota's Job Boom

October 15, 2014

Among the 50 states, North Dakota boasts the lowest unemployment rate, at 2.8 percent. As J.C. Reindl of the Detroit Free Press reports, there are more jobs available in North Dakota than the state knows what to do with; in September, North Dakota had more unfilled jobs than it had job applications. And the jobs boom has brought rewards across occupations. For example:

  • Oil field workers can make annual salaries in the six figures, while even fast food workers in North Dakota are given hundreds of dollars in hiring bonuses.
  • There were 26,000 job openings in North Dakota in September, the majority of which (65 percent) were located outside of oil-producing counties, as cities across the state have demand for workers in every field from carpentry to vehicle repair to various service jobs.
  • The state is the number two producer of oil in the United States, behind the state of Texas.

Why is employment so strong in the state? Fracking. Just five years ago, the state was producing 200,000 barrels of oil per day. Today, it is producing five times that, at more than 1 million barrels of oil daily. Beyond the oil industry itself, the boom has created jobs in non-oil businesses, and North Dakota's state government boasts a budget surplus. With the extra funds, the state has reduced property taxes while funding schools and new infrastructure spending.

North Dakota is advertising in nearby states such as Michigan (whose 7.4 percent unemployment rate is above the national average and stands in stark contrast to that of North Dakota), encouraging families to move to North Dakota for more promising employment opportunities. According to Wally Goulet, chairman of the North Dakota Economic Development Foundation, starting pay in North Dakota jobs ranges from $12 to $15.

Source: J.C. Reindl, "Fracking boom has been a jobs boon for North Dakota," Detroit Free Press, October 12, 2014. 


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