BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — North Dakota ended the decade with more than 430,000 workers, up more than 61,000 since 2000 and an increase equal to the population of Bismarck, the state’s second biggest city, a Job Service analysis showed.

Thousands of jobs remain unfilled in a state that’s enjoying a robust economy thanks to its booming oil patch and healthy agriculture markets, the agency said.

While North Dakota lost residents for decades, it has gained population and jobs as oil production has increased in the past few years.

“Oil is not the only game in town, but they are important to us,” said Michael Ziesch, a Job Service North Dakota research analyst.

The state added 17,755 jobs from 2008 to 2010, more than two-thirds of which were filled by workers from elsewhere. They came from every state in the nation, led by neighboring Minnesota, Montana and South Dakota, Job Service records showed.

Large influxes of workers also have come from states with similar climates and geographies as North Dakota, such as Wisconsin, Idaho and Michigan, Ziesch said. Residents from states with strong energy sectors such as Texas, Wyoming and Colorado also have flocked to North Dakota to fill jobs, he said.

In May, the state had the lowest unemployment rate in the nation at 3 percent and tallied 15,205 unfilled jobs, Ziesch said. About a third of the job openings were in the state’s 17 oil-producing counties, he said.

North Dakota’s overall population increased 4.7 percent from 2000 to 2010 to nearly 672,600 residents, according to the U.S. Census Bureau said. The number of workers on employers’ payrolls rose 16.6 percent during the same time.

Some state officials have disputed the census estimate as too conservative. Ziesch and Richard Rathge, the state Data Center director and North Dakota demographer, said the census did not count all people working in North Dakota as residents.

Many new workers, especially those in the oil patch, don’t have a permanent residence and still claim their home state, Rathge said.

“They may be living in a truck, trailer or man camp,” he said.

Rathge said while North Dakota is enjoying job growth, the average salary of just more than $45,200 was 20.6 percent below the national average of about $57,000 in 2009, the latest figures available.

Only Idaho, Mississippi, Montana and South Dakota had lower average salaries than North Dakota, he said.

But with its booming economy and job growth, North Dakota is on pace to soon match the national average for the first time in more than two decades, Rathge said.

“While the national economy is struggling, North Dakota’s is robust and closing the gap,” he said. “North Dakota is just going gangbusters.”

(© Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

Comments (60)
  1. Matt says:

    North Dakota should be the model for how our economy can recover. They are leveraging all of their natural resources and allowing businesses to drive profitable returns by not hindering them with ridiculous legislation. If you look around the US this is the only model that’s successful when big government states like California are seeing 5 companies leave for every 1 that comes in you can see that the model isn’t sustainable.

    Kudos to ND and the residence there for keeping their state free and open and allowing businesses to succeed which is better for everyone.

    In case you are wondering (and conveniently not mentioned)

    Governor – Republican
    House – 69-25 Republican
    Senate – 35-12 Republican

    Almost every political office except education is held by a Republican. Just thought I would make that call out.

    Who wants a job anyway…

    1. soduk says:

      Anybody who uses the word “kudos” is an imbecile. Therefore your comment is automatically invalid.

      1. Matt says:

        Funny because Webster Dictionary has it, I guess they are all imbeciles though? I love the democratic response, you don’t have an answer so you write it off on a technicality.

        1. Poor Liberal Minnesota says:

          MN Democrats can laugh all they want at the Republicans in North Dakota, the Republicans are taking the “cash to the bank”.

          The History Channel did a nice promo for the State of North Dakota, they mentioned it was one of the states with the lowest unemployment. In fact, the showed an empty unemployment office in North Dakota. I liked how they mentioned North Dakota offers low corporate taxes (say it ain’t so).

          1. Kate says:

            um, ND has been quite balanced for the split between Dems & Repubs. It isn’t because one is better, they just know how to work hard and work things out. And what has the Dem/Repub split been over the last 10/20 years? The last 6months doesn’t mean much.

        2. Chris says:

          Thanks Matt for the good post! Make it a great day and kudos to you! 🙂

      2. Jake says:

        Anybody who responds like you do is an uncivilzed idiot, with no clue. I try to avoid the name calling, but YOU STARTED IT.

    2. Marc says:

      Matt, I agree we should model our economy after North Dakota. Then we’d have a 5 billion dollar surplus and thousands of new jobs based off our new found oil fields. Oh wait….. we don’t have oil in Minnesota. You better find another natural resource to build an economic boom on for Minnesota. I bet they also have a low paying job available for you there! The average employee makes $18 an hour! How are they support their family? Grow up and learn that some people need extra help, not be run out of the state.

      1. Jim says:

        Did you discover oil in Minnesota, Matt? Because otherwise it’s not a valid comparison.

        1. Charlie says:

          MN is rich in it’s own natural resources…

          the state was built on the lumber, agriculture, and mining industries…

          and they still exist!

          1. Jim says:

            Charlie, not sure what your point is. North Dakota’s economy is booming because of oil. Lumber, agriculture, etc. are nice, but in this day and age they can’t compare economically to oil. People see ND has added jobs while other states have lost and use it as an excuse to point out irrelevant facts about the political leanings of elected officials. You too can follow ND’s example. Just get on out there and discover your own “booming oil patch” and your state’s economic future is secured!

            1. Jake says:

              Well, they also don’t have tons of welfare programs, they don’t have a ton of senseless crime to deal with, they don’t import tons of refugees who become dependent on gov’t for generations, and they are thinking about abolishing their income tax. What would Minnesota look like if we did the same thing? Answer: a LOT BETTER.

              1. Ahmed says:

                They do have a fair amount of immigrants. Mostly with doctorates.

      2. dan says:

        How do you support a family on $18 an hour? Wow, you must be Union. Let me tell you how…….Mom & Dad both work at $18 hour and that would be a gross family income of $74,880 well above the average household income in the State of MN.

      3. Chris says:


        How can you look down on $18 / hour???

        You can raise a family on that… especially in ND!

        And along with those jobs come much better jobs too…

        I think we just hit on a good point here, as your expectations are unreasonable for a rural state that is kicking everybody’s rear!!!

    3. pepper says:

      But it’s ……..NORTH DAKOTA.

      1. Chuck says:

        Yes, beautiful ND!

        If that is unacceptable to you, take a shot at finding a job in Calif or Hawaii!

      2. @pepper says:

        @pepper, you sound like a complete snob. You’re no better than anyone else. Get over yourself. ND is beautiful. Let me guess, you love living surrounded by concrete in Minneapolis?

      3. Bison Mama says:

        I laughed Pepper. Go Bison!

      4. Jake says:

        So, it’s North Dakota. And your point IS?

      5. Jake says:

        Well, the Indians fought hard to keep it, must be something GOOD up THERE….

    4. Jim K. says:

      You can tell it’s republican run because the salaries are 20.6% below the national average. Just thought I would make that call out. Myself I don’t really give a —- about democrats or republicans. Both are ruining the country and I don’t know why some people can’t see that. A lot are beginning too though!

      1. Jake says:

        I will gladly take a 21% pay cut if my taxes and other cost-of-living expenses were reduced by 22% (or substantially more). I think they are winning the financial argument. Now about that nightlife . . . .

        1. Jake says:

          Not to mention the fact that you don’t hear sirens screaming past your home DAY AND NIGHT, little highway congestion and the idiot drivers that go with it, school lawsuits that are reported weekly, bank robberies, drug deals gone bad, newspapers that won’t report the court docket because so many names end in ‘ez’, and a place where LOOTING doesn’t occur after every natural disaster.

          1. Kim says:

            You think there isn’t crime? Any time you get population growth without the increase in police staffing you get crime. It is there, you just don’t get much of the news from up there.

            1. Stan says:

              There really isn’t much crime in North Dakota, mostly drunken Minnesota college imports. You don’t steal from your neighbor because he fed your cows last winter when you went of vacation. THE HORROR of functional communities! In Mn, we are the same but need the government to help us out with everything.

    5. Union Yes! says:

      It goes to show you what SLAVE LABOR can accomplish.

      1. Whitey Fjord says:

        Really slave labor? You’re actually comparing $18 an hour to slavery. You union people are pathetic.

        1. Jake says:

          I agree, and I am a longtime union employee.

    6. Me says:

      Yeah, who needs clean water and honest businesses? Or trees, for that matter. Kiss those goodbye at the Fargo/Moorhead border.

      Go Bison!

    7. kim says:

      Yea, except it just recently swung over to republican. They’ve been more balanced in the past. And they lost 2 high ranking democrats in the US senate and house of reps. It’ll be harder for them to compete with the larger states now. And the senators and rep they have tend to be more moderate – no wing-nuts of either kind.

  2. sw says:

    Unfortunately, your logic doesn’t quite follow through. The 3 states who have lost the most jobs are Nevada, Arizona, and Florida. All have Republican governors. Nice try, but seems something else is probably at work in North Dakota.

    1. Matt says:

      They are also three states that the biggest segment of their economy is based on tourism which took a huge hit. I appreciate the debate and your facts are accurate, but #2 & #3 Texas and South Dakota also are strongly republican states more so than the 3 you listed.

      Numbers are a funny thing you can always make them look the way you want them too.

    2. Jake says:

      Yes it does. All three of those states that you mentioned have large democratic urban areas, mostly populated by LIBERALS who have moved there from DEMOCRATIC states, usually after they retire. They bring their attitudes and ‘values’ with them, rather than leave them behind and learn to appreciate the FREEDOM and personal responsibility that they COULD HAVE under a LIMITED GOVERNMENT.

  3. Proud American says:

    I am so glad my daughter chose to go to NDSU to college. At least there she has a fighting chance of getting a decent job and the State isn’t run by money hungry democrats.

    1. Jim K. says:

      Do you realize that republicans are the ones who want illegal aliens in the country because of the cheap labor! They are also the ones sending jobs overseas! If you argued against the republicans I would have stuck up for them. Don’t you see that both parties are playing all of us as stupid pawns and pitting us against each other?

      1. Jake says:

        Ah, actually, BOTH parties court the illegal alien VOTE. The GOP does it through jobs, and the DFL does it through WELFARE programs. BOTH parties are WRONG in this stupid struggle. What should happen is for BOTH parties to reject ANY illegal alien support, and start supporting AMERICANS. Then the illegals would go HOME, and we would be a lot better off. Wages would rise, welfare rolls would drop, there wouldn’t be such a need for ‘special education’, or a ‘dream act’, and hundreds of BILLIONS of dollars wouldn’t be leaving our country each year, NEVER to be seen again. They would stay HERE, and keep our economy going.

        1. Jon Stewart says:

          Quit breathing in the foxygen.

    2. Chris says:

      @Randy… what a lame comment… not funny, but shows your level…

      ND has a lot going for it… paying its own way without burdening its people too!

    3. Bison Mama says:

      My daughters (two) also went to NDSU. Go Bison! But they’re Hispanic so they went on tuition diversity waivers so the state paid for the bulk of their education! It isn’t their fault ND doesn’t have enough Hispanics and tries to get more to attend their colleges.

      And before you ignorants have a bison, Hispanic does not mean immigrant. My hubby’s family pre-dates the Mayflower.

      1. Jake says:

        I think all families pre-date the Mayflower. Well, maybe not those “spontaneous generation” families that just pop out of nowhere, like the Kardashians. Probably from outer space.

        1. Smart Alec says:

          Uh, that would mean here before the Mayflower arrived. Don’t let analytical thinking get in your way.

  4. Mattsux says:

    Maybe Matt should move to Minot.

    1. Huxley says:

      I’d guess that he already lives there and is trying to rationalize. “Kudos” to him for trying though.

  5. Joseph Rodela says:

    Don’t forget, like the article states up 61,000 jobs in ten years, the same as the number of people living in it’s 2nd largest city. 2nd Largest City. 61,000 people. That’s why it’s “booming”. It’s ND, a ton of land with no people. Conservative or Liberal has no bearing.

    1. Mitch says:

      You are wrong. It does have a bearing. It’s a mostly rural state. The safety net is your friends or family. Places with dense urban areas are much more likely to be liberal and depend on the government. Facts are the Republicans have positioned the state so it’s a really good deal to move to ND to work. If you were making the same amount of money and being taxed the same amount why would you move unless you really just weren’t happy?

      1. Huxley says:

        Another imbecile. Enjoy your dirt storms.

      2. truth hurts says:

        “The safety net is your friends or family.” If this is the case, why are North Dakota politicians crying for the Federal government to bail out the 5,000 flood victims? They have a 5 billion surplus. Don’t they believe in states’ right?

      3. buzzcut says:

        “The safety net is your friends or family.” If this is the case, why are North Dakota politicians crying for the Federal government to bail out the 5,000 flood victims? They have a 5 billion surplus. Don’t they believe in states’ right?

        1. Chuck says:

          So what is the purpose of posting the same comment exactly the same twice, but under different made up names? So sad…

        2. Jake says:

          Do you mean like the entitlement dependent, dirt poor, north side of Mpls?? From the video that I have seen from Minot, those people had to deal with a 130 year event. Think about that for a minute, if you have the capacity. I saw them trying to do EVERYTHING within their power to try to minimize the damage, and I didn’t see to many whining in front of cameras, either. I didn’t see too many of them sitting on the porch, while volunteers came in to help. I saw them doing what they had to do. The lack of compassion from Minnesota towards our state neighbors astounds me.

  6. truth hurts says:

    “and tallied 15,205 unfilled jobs” Why are these jobs unfilled?

    1. Slim says:

      Go for it and take one of them!

      There are limitations as housing and other services are catching up…

      Name another state where housing construction is increasing like this!

      Also, the location is not that close to the major metro areas… and that is good too!

      1. Kim says:

        Yes, what Slim said. There have to be people in the right place to fill the jobs. And they need a place to live.

        The truth doesn’t hurt so much as stopping to think about why.

  7. ND Bureau of Tourism says:

    Welcome to North Dakota!

    Thank you for visiting our beautiful state. Here are a few things you ought to know to make your stay more pleasant:

    1. That slope-shouldered farm boy you are snickering at, did more work before breakfast than you will do all week at the gym.

    2. It’s called a ‘gravel road.’ No matter how slow you drive, you’re going to get dust on your BMW. I have a 4-wheel drive because I need it. Now drive or get it the hell out of the way.

    3. We all started hunting and fishing when we were nine-years-old. Yeah, we saw Bambi die. We got over it

    4. Any references to ‘grain fed’ when talking about our women will get your butt kicked…by our women.

    5. Pull your pants up, and turn your hat around. You look like an idiot.

    6. If that cell phone rings while a bunch of mallards are making their final approach, we will shoot it. You might hope you don’t have it up to your ear at the time.

    7. No, there’s no ‘Vegetarian Special’ on the menu. Order steak. Order it rare. Or, you can order the Chef’s Salad and pick off the two pounds of ham and turkey

    8. You bring Coke into my house, you should bring rum along, and ice.

    9. So you have a sixty-thousand-dollar car. We’re real impressed. We have half-million-dollar combines that we use two weeks a year.

    10. Let’s get this straight. We may have one stoplight in town, but we stop when it’s red. We may even stop when it’s yellow.

    11. Our women hunt, fish, and drive trucks – because they want to. So, you’re a feminist. Isn’t that cute.

    12. Yeah, we eat trout, northern pike, walleye and perch, too. If you really want sushi and caviar, it’s available at the bait shop.

    13. They are pigs and cows. That’s what they smell like. Get over it. Don’t like it? Interstate highways #94 and #29 go two ways – get on one of them. The more people that leave, the better the hunting & fishing.

    14. So what if every person in every pick-up waves? It’s called being friendly. Understand the concept?

    15. Yeah, we have golf courses, more per person than anywhere else on earth. Don’t hit into the water hazards. It spooks the fish. And stay out of the woods, that spooks the deer.

    Please enjoy your stay in North Dakota!

  8. HooDatIS? says:

    sounds like a place i need to live in

  9. South Dakota Pheasant Hunting says:

    I get pleasure from, lead to I discovered exactly what I used to be looking for. You have ended my 4 day lengthy hunt! God Bless you man. Have a nice day. Bye

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