Wages looking up in N.D.Most older North Dakotans knew that if they wanted to make “good” money, they had to leave the state. It was pretty simple: Wages were lower here. Stay home and be, if not poor, at least economically challenged. That’s changing. Per-capita personal income has dramatically improved in North Dakota over the past 10 years — by a remarkable 78 percent.
By: The Bismarck Tribune, The Jamestown Sun
Most older North Dakotans knew that if they wanted to make “good” money, they had to leave the state. It was pretty simple: Wages were lower here. Stay home and be, if not poor, at least economically challenged. That’s changing. Per-capita personal income has dramatically improved in North Dakota over the past 10 years — by a remarkable 78 percent.
The state moved from 38th among states in personal income ranking to ninth.
Wages here are on the rise.
Per-capita personal income in North Dakota was $25,582 in 2000. Today, it’s $45,747. It’s a rate of increase about double national performance on wages.
Most occupations in the state reported wage increases in 2011, according to Job Service North Dakota, and the largest of those are, unsurprisingly, in the mining and construction segments. More to the point, the oil exploration and production sector accounts for only 2.5 percent of employment in the state, but it contributed to more than 5 percent of total wages.
The state’s low unemployment, steadily the lowest in the nation and anchored below 4 percent, has something to do with the increase in wages as well. The limited availability of workers has forced business and industry to sweeten the pot for new hires.
Instead of being driven to move to Denver or Minneapolis for a good-paying job, North Dakotans can stay home if they like. It’s the big correction to the chronic export of young, well-educated, hard-working North Dakota young people.
It also acts to bring out-of-state workers to the state — new North Dakotans. In the long run, that’s to the state’s advantage.
True, all of this good economic churn going on in the state means more traffic, pressure on housing inventory, growing schools and changes in the landscape. It also means lots of jobs at better pay. It means government revenue to address traffic and housing issues. And it translates to opportunities to address how the state’s changing and having the resources to respond to the new normal.
While wage increases in the state are widespread, there will always be segments of the economy that struggle, and those who for whatever reason can’t work. But when the state’s flush, there are resources to address these issues.
At the same time North Dakota enjoys the economic benefits of oil development, the state must also continue work to diversify the economy, taking advantage of value-added agriculture and new manufacturing. We are building a new economic model for North Dakota.