North Dakota Unemployment Rate Up Slightly, State Gained 15,000 Workers In Last Year

“North Dakota 2.7% Unemployment Will Soar,” was a recent headline from 24/7 Wall Street.

“No state has a lower unemployment rate than North Dakota, where it is 2.7%,” the website reported recently. “No state is at a greater risk to have its unemployment rate soar. Low oil prices get the blame.”

[mks_pullquote align=”right” width=”300″ size=”24″ bg_color=”#000000″ txt_color=”#ffffff”]”…in December of 2014 the state saw an unemployment rate of 2.8 percent, basically unchanged from the 2.7 percent rate in December of 2013. The state counted about 1,000 more unemployed workers, but that was in the context of the state adding more than 15,000 employed workers over last year.”[/mks_pullquote]

There’s no question that plunging oil prices are going to have an impact on the state’s labor markets, but according to the latest jobs data released by the state today so far so good.

Of course, this data is from December before oil companies began to announce rig stacking and oil service companies began to announce layoffs.

Regardless in December of 2014 the state saw an unemployment rate of 2.8 percent, basically unchanged from the 2.7 percent rate in December of 2013. The state counted about 1,000 more unemployed workers, but that was in the context of the state adding more than 15,000 employed workers over last year.

Recently a high-profile North Dakota oil industry executive (who, as it happens, was a campaign chairman for Governor Jack Dalrymple) suggested that the state may see as many as 20,000 layoffs by June. Many have poo-pooed that prediction as overly pessimistic, but in a state with just over 11,000 unemployed people that would be devastating if it happened.

Especially since many of those workers would not doubt stay in North Dakota to collect benefits.

This may be the last really strong jobs report North Dakota gets for a while. Given oil prices, and layoffs, I’m guessing we’re going to see a bit of a bump in unemployment numbers once the January numbers are tabulated. Of course, the state does still have a lot of open jobs and laid off employees can probably quickly find employment, but January may be the beginning of a slide into the unfamiliar territory for the state: elevated unemployment numbers.

December 2014 Unemployment Rate

Rob Port is the editor of SayAnythingBlog.com, a columnist for the Forum News Service, and host of the Plain Talk Podcast which you can subscribe to by clicking here.

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