Sunday, April 24, 2011

North Dakota's Commodity Driven Boom

Carla Fried argues that North Dakota is "America's best state". Well, at least it has America's best labor market. The unemployment rate was just 3.6% (the 3.8% number she quotes is outdated) compared to the national average of 8.8% and employment increased as much as 4.2%, more than in any other state and way above the national average of 1%.

Also, houses are still cheap, the violent crime rate is the fourth lowest in the country (with only Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont being less violent) and overall economic growth is very high.

What can be learned from this? Well, as a personal advice to unemployed or underemployed Americans, they should try to look for jobs in North Dakota, where it is a lot easier getting jobs than elsewhere.

On the political level, the lesson that can be drawn from North Dakota's success isn't related to issues of taxation and regulation in general, but rather that if your state or country is lucky enough to have oil in the ground, you shouldn't try to inhibit its extraction for environmentalist reasons. Because the main factor driving North Dakota's boom is increased oil extraction. With oil prices reaching new highs and with oil production increasing as much as 43% in the latest year alone (and 200% during the latest 5 years), oil is bringing in far more money than ever before to North Dakota.

Another partially related key factor driving North Dakota's boom is the high prices of wheat and many other grains, enriching local farmers.