Weather Forecast


N.D. job numbers amazing

North Dakotans have gotten used to monthly employment statistics that rank the state first in job creation in the nation, and for having the lowest unemployment rate among the states. It’s a remarkable achievement, driven not only by obvious job growth in the Oil Patch but also by a strong agriculture sector and a diversified economy in the state’s large and mid-sized cities. The combination has proved to be a winner for a state that up until a few years ago debated incentives to keep young people from leaving because good jobs were not to be had.

As important as the oil boom has been, it would be a misreading of the state’s economy to attribute the good times to only oil. Nearly every major sector of the economy has been firing on all cylinders for more than a decade. North Dakota got through the great recession with only minor and temporary economic setbacks here and there, but nothing like the crippling downturn other states experienced. When the economy recovered, North Dakota was positioned to exceed national growth and employment gains.

The most recent numbers are startling not only in the aggregate but also in gains in specific job categories. Nearly all segments of the job market had more jobs available in April this year over April last year. The number is 22,200 more jobs. Overall, there are more people working in the state than ever before. That’s as clear an indication as it gets that the state’s economy is strong.

Of course, not all jobs are equal. Critics might contend it’s no big deal to create low-paying jobs in the service industry. Maybe so. But even so-called low-paying jobs pay better because the low unemployment rate has put upward pressure on all wages. A breakdown of job classifications overall reveals that higher-level jobs that are considered goodpaying are in the mix. In Fargo, for example, the expansion and diversification of the metro economy is producing jobs suited for young professionals in fields from health care to banking to higher education to high tech to retail management.

It’s the brightest economic and employment landscape the state has ever seen. North Dakotans tend to be modest about such success, but at the very least there is reason to smile.