Damn, North Dakota: from 2010 to 2013, 940 new jobs per 10,000 people. Next highest in the U.S.? 337 new jobs per 10K people.

Say it with me now: the twin engines of present-day American job growth are knowledge and energy. We’ve talked about this before (with a little more context here), and now theres’s some new data via Atlantic Cities essentially underscoring the idea. Look at this chart:


The most actual jobs were added in California and Texas, but those are two of the three biggest states in America. If you do it per capita across 10K residents, North Dakota blows everyone out of the water. Simple reason: oil + natural gas reserves. You could argue it’s a hardcore ‘boom-bust’ situation, whereby all those towns with 100K residents now will be deserted when the resources run out. Sadly, that’s probably accurate. People go where money and jobs are (adjusting for factors like family); that’s kinda the real American way.

Obviously, jobs aren’t created equal — some are high-paying and some are basic blue-collar type jobs. If you look at The Atlantic Cities link, you’ll see maps for both job creation models across all 50 states; North Dakota leads in both, and by a fairly wide margin. You may think a state like California — with more tech jobs — would be No. 1 or No. 2 for “high-paying.” (It’s in the top five, but it’s below Washington state — think Seattle.) But if you want to know the overall reason why the “high-paying job creation” states and the “low-paying job creation” states sync up, here’s one idea:

Here the picture becomes more interesting. On the one hand several of the states that top the lists of overall job growth and high-wage job growth also turn up here. Generally speaking, the job market is often consistent across the board, with low-wage jobs following growth in overall and high-wage positions. As my Martin Prosperity Institute colleague Charlotta Mellander demonstrated this fall, on a metro level places with more high-wage job growth tend to have more low-wage job growth as well. So, for example, North Dakota’s energy boom has created demand for energy workers and contractors, as well as restaurants, hotels, and other amenities. Unsurprisingly, then, North Dakota, Utah, D.C., and Texas again top the list.

Salt Lake City, FYI, might be the best place in America to move to right now; obviously there’s a religious context to living there (Mormon faith), but damn, it tops almost every quality-of-life figure out there (and there’s jobs!).




Ted Bauer