North Dakota is the latest buzz in the job market today, and with good reason – but is it a hotspot for employment? With an unemployment rate of 3%, a gross domestic product (GDP) growth of 7.6%, and a ranking of the fastest growing economy in the country(1), many people are thinking North Dakota may be a great place to work.
And while the oil industry may be a driving factor behind the rise in jobs, it is certainly not the only source of jobs in North Dakota.
The Oil Boom
North Dakota lies on the Bakken oil field, which stretches across North Dakota, northeast Montana, and all the way into Saskatchewan in Canada. Lying beneath an underground shale rock formation, oil has literally become black gold for North Dakota. Production on the field has skyrocketed from just 3,000 barrels a day back in 2005 up to 225,000 barrels a day in 2010. Apparently, that is just the tip of the iceberg. In 2011, CNNMoney reported that the Energy Information Administration (EIA) was predicting production could reach 350,000 barrels a day by the year 2035. However, current production has far exceeded that estimate, with June 2012 totals reaching 594,000 barrels per day(3).
With production rising that quickly it is little wonder that available jobs on and around the oilfield in North Dakota have expanded accordingly. The jobs are wide and varied, but one of the top needs of the moment is truck drivers, evidently to haul all that oil out. Some say that this job garners six-digit incomes.
While the major oil companies: Halliburton, Schlumberger, and Hess are creating a major portion of the jobs (30,000 in 2011, estimated to reach 100,000 if the production rise continues), other industries are hiring as well. A total of 37% of North Dakota’s business sector was in the hiring process in 2010, while only 8% actually laid workers off. With all the hungry workers around, the restaurant business has seen a definite increase, and has been actively recruiting workers, at excellent pay rates too.
According to the executive director of Job Services North Dakota, jobs of all types are available, with the oil field claiming only about one third of the openings. Obviously, industries focused on the influx of people, such as hospitality, transportation and food services rank high on the list.
Williston, one of the towns closest to the oil boom, is struggling to keep up with the population increase. The town’s biggest needs? Law enforcement officers, school teachers, and doctors. Not usually the type of people in an oil boom crowd, but a definite area of employment opportunity in North Dakota. If it’s beginning to sound like the old west, you should not be surprised. There are many similarities, and opportunity is knocking – very loudly.
Good for the Country
While the increase in jobs is a definite boon to the state of North Dakota, it has a ripple effect throughout the country. More jobs anywhere in the country help to boost the overall economy. In areas of the country that are hardest hit by the difficult economy, people are looking elsewhere for employment. For some, that means relocating and heading to places like North Dakota, where the promise of a better future awaits.