North Dakota Labor Market Trends

Created by Raheem Williams |

North Dakota suffers from a labor force shortage. Currently, there are more than 12,000 open jobs in the state, enough to be North Dakota’s 10th largest city.

The state was previously able to attract workers by providing refuge during the 2008 recession. As most of the country experienced layoffs, North Dakota’s economy was just beginning to take off with the shale oil boom.

North Dakota‘s labor force grew from 369,532 people in January 2008 to 413,550 in January 2018 – an increase of almost 12 percent, more than double the rate of growth for the national labor force. However, the ongoing national recovery and the collapse of commodity prices have made it more difficult for the state to attract outside workers.

As the labor market improved beyond North Dakota, the economic incentives for workers and families to relocate to North Dakota have dissipated. This has caused the state’s labor force growth to revert back to the national norms.

Likewise, tight labor market conditions nationwide indicate that North Dakota’s problems may soon be shared by the rest of the nation. National unemployment is at 4.1 percent – the lowest rate since 2000 – and labor force growth remains slow.

As outlined in our Quarterly Labor Market Reports, a well-functioning labor market is key to fostering a flourishing economy. Labor market growth has long-term public policy implications and is of great interest to all North Dakotans. That is why I will be presenting a poster with Dr. James Caton addressing these concerns at the 2018 North Dakota Demographic Conference.

Our poster will display data related to the future of North Dakota’s labor force. We will be discussing the effects of automation on the labor market and potential policy responses to the world’s rapidly changing technology. Additionally, the poster will showcase how North Dakota’s labor trends were influenced by the state’s oil boom-and-bust. Finally, we will outline the long-term issues facing North Dakota and examine their ramifications for growth.

We hope you will stop by and join our discussion!


Conference information
2018 North Dakota Demographics Conference
March 20, 2018
8 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Hilton Garden Inn, Fargo, ND
Register here

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