Yes, there are a lot of jobs there, the majority of them requiring no more than a high school education.
North Dakota is now the fourth-largest oil-producing state in the U.S., recently passing Louisiana. At the present rate of growth, it will knock California from third place later this year. The unemployment rate in the state has dropped to 3.3 percent, the lowest in the nation. The unemployment rate in the Williston area, in the heart of oil country, is less than one percent. Business growth in the western counties continues. The average salary in the five northwest counties is at an all-time high of almost $60,000, a 79 percent increase since 2007, but the cost of living has also rocketed.
But there are associated problems with this situation, especially for long-time residents.
For starters, the region is a case study in an inflationary economy. As residents’ earnings soar, so too do the costs of goods and services. “Anything you can think of that a person would consume is also being consumed by folks in the oil industry,” says Dennis Lindahl, a city councilman in Stanley. “Merchants are able to charge an increased rate. Folks in town sometimes get a little upset from supporting the industry while not receiving benefits.”
The biggest struggle in the region, though, is the shortage of housing. When people in other parts of the country talk about a “housing shortage,” they don’t mean it literally. There are usually still plenty of available places for residents making decent money. But when people in western North Dakota discuss the housing shortage, they’re serious. There’s literally no place to sleep.
The current oil boom, the third North Dakota has experienced since 1951, is possible now because of two things: the fracking that now makes it possible to extract oil from otherwise unproductive deposits and the high oil prices that make it cost effective to do so. And booms never seem to last long.
If you want pictures, here you are.