North Dakota Labor Force Down Almost 7,000 As Unemployment Rate Dips Slightly

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According to the most recent unemployment report from North Dakota Job Service, covering the month of November (see below), the state’s seasonally-adjusted unemployment rate dip slightly, but so did the number of people working in the state.


November of 2015 had about 6,300 workers employed compared to November of 2014, but the labor force in 2015 was also 6,792 workers smaller which is why the unemployment rate fell slightly.

As has been the case so far during the decline in energy development, most of the workers losing their jobs in the state also seem to be leaving the state.

Here’s the trend on the labor force – the number of people eligible for employment – versus the number of people actually employed. The gap is the unemployment rate. As you can see, even with recent declines in the size of employment and the labor force, the state is still well above where it was about two years ago.


It’s worth keeping in mind that, overall, North Dakota still has a worker shortage. According to the November Job Openings Report from Job Service the state is still measuring far more job openings than unemployed people. “Active resumés totaled 9,440 in November 2015,” the report states. “Active resumés were lower by 0.8 percent (-77) from the prior month but 9.7 percent higher (+836) than one year ago.”

If I had to describe what’s going on in North Dakota’s jobs market in a nutshell, I’d say that the state is losing the sort of jobs that attract workers from out of state, and the workers who filled those jobs aren’t sticking around. They’re leaving the state.

Meanwhile the jobs that remain typically aren’t the sort to lure new workers to a state known for its low population density and weather extremes.

Here’s the full Job Service report: