David Flynn: Oil Boom Is Over, But North Dakota Job Growth Still Strong

Percentage Change in Labor Force, Year-over-Year

Most recent discussion of oil markets focused on prices and the volatility of price movements. These are surely very important, and the driver of almost everything else happening in energy markets.

Looking at North Dakota here is the percentage change in labor force (year-over-year) for North Dakota as a whole and for the four core Bakken oil counties.

This really sets up the difference between the state as a whole and the Bakken counties. The Bakken counties were the major factor driving the increases in labor force, and remain a positive factor in labor force still.

The really interesting result from this graph is that labor force in the oil counties continues to grow, at a more moderate pace for clearly. However, there is still growth.

This implies there will still be adjustments needed in these local economies, whether we want to discuss housing, infrastructure or the availability of goods. From 2010 to 2014 we could clearly identify a “boom” from the percentage changes in labor force.

While the “boom” might be over, it is not replaced with a recession or negative growth environment. There is excellent, positive growth in the labor force still going on now.

North Dakota still needs to answer questions regarding how to deal with that labor force growth.