A couple of days ago Gallup released numbers showing North Dakota tops among states in that organization’s Job Creation Index. Now Gallup has another report out, this time measuring the payroll-to-population rate.
“Gallup’s P2P metric tracks the percentage of the adult population aged 18 and older that is employed full time for an employer for at least 30 hours per week,” the report says.
This is a metric that tends to punish states with elderly populations. “The differences in P2P rates across states may reflect several factors, including the overall employment situation and the population’s demographic composition,” reads the report. “States with large older and retired populations, for example, would have a lower percentage of adults working full time.”
In the past, an aging population was a big challenge North Dakota had to overcome.In
North Dakota’s population currently ranks about in the middle of states when listed by order of median age, but that’s a relatively new development. Changes in the agriculture industry, long North Dakota’s top source of jobs and commerce, lead to it employing fewer people. For generations, younger North Dakotans went elsewhere to find jobs and make their way in the world. That left older generations behind, and it skewed the state’s age demographics toward the elderly.
Not a good thing for any state. A population that’s too top heavy, that has too many retired and too few still working and paying the taxes, is a recipe for economc stagnation and worse.
But one of the most profound impacts of the oil boom-driven economic surge has been enjoying in recent years has been the opportunity it affords younger North Dakotans. Not only is the strong economy attracting younger people from outside of the state, but it’s keeping more of North Dakota’s own at home.
You can see the shift in age demographics in this chart from North Dakota Compass, and the timing isn’t at all surprising. As oil activity began to pick up in North Dakota again, the age demographics began to shift from young to old again. Particularly among working-age citizens.
That’s not surprising because, as I wrote earlier this month, the state is actually suffering from a labor shortage.
According to North Dakota job service, the number of active resumes per job opening is less than one – .06, specifically – which is, I’m sure you’ll be surprised to learn, the lowest in the nation.
Given that level of opportunity, North Dakota’s demographics are likely to trend younger for some time to come as the state attracts working-age citizens willing to fill the jobs. There’s a lot of positives to that, as I described above, but also some negatives.
There is a strong correlation between age and crime. Crimes rates skew very heavily toward younger Americans. As people age, they are far less likely to commit crimes. As North Dakota gets younger, crime rates will inevitably increase.