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The 'Bizarro World' of North Dakota: Where the Plains Stretch and Jobs Are Plentiful

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We usually associate states like Texas and Virginia to be the most business friendly and plump with job openings. However thanks to a boom in energy production and agriculture, Yahoo's Daniel Gross makes the argument for North Dakota as the beacon of American job growth in 2011 and the "bizarro world" of the U.S. economy:

"In May nonfarm payroll employment was up 4.3 percent from the year before, and the unassuming state sported a gaudy 3.2 percent unemployment rate. In several counties, the rate is below one percent. The state jobs office has 15,205 listings, up 64 percent from May 2010. North Dakota, which is one of the smallest states by population (about 670,000) and one of the largest geographically, has .7 unemployed persons for every job opening. In the U.S., the labor force participation rate is an anemic 64.2 percent. In North Dakota, it stands at 74 percent."

North Dakota's success is thanks to a boom in oil production, doubling since 2007, and the state's prolific agricultural economy, which is the largest single producer in the U.S. of fourteen crops. Gross discusses North Dakota's economic surge:

If the U.S. economy looked a little more like North Dakota and a little less like Las Vegas we'd be in better shape.

Did you ever think you would hear that?

The boom in oil production has required a great deal of support, and created a demand for a range of workers: truckers, accountants, cooks and HR managers. Gross notes that in one town gas stations, convenience stores, and McDonald's are offering $12.50 to $15.00 an hour for entry-level jobs.

While North Dakota basks in economic success, its lower neighbor isn't doing too bad either. PowerLine Blog on South Dakota:

"Its unemployment rate was 4.8% in May, not as low as North Dakota’s but a heck of a lot better than the national rate of 9.1%. South Dakota doesn’t have any oil, but its business-friendly environment and superior work force attract jobs of all kinds. I spent last weekend in Sioux Falls, a booming city of over 150,000. Not only is the business climate terrific, it is also a good place to get sick. We spent some time at a local hospital (I was a visitor, not a patient) but were most impressed by the children’s hospital next door. Not only does it offer state of the art medicine, it is designed to look like a castle."

As many states export jobs, the sparsely populated Dakotas import people to deal with a labor shortage. While they benefit from plentiful natural resources, what can other states learn from the Dakotas' success?

(H/T:PowerLine Blog)

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