A crack in the economic smile

North Dakota State Roundup

Published May 1, 2009  | May 2009 issue

You knew the party couldn't last forever. Though North Dakota had bucked the recessionary trend, there are clear signs of slowdown in the state.

In January of this year, the state's unemployment rate jumped an eye-popping 50 percent. The number of jobless rose by 6,000 from a month earlier, pushing the state's jobless rate from 3.4 percent to over 5 percent, its highest rate in 15 years.

Things could be worse: The state's unemployment rate is still about 50 percent lower than the U.S. unemployment rate. But more layoffs and other poor economic news suggest things aren't rebounding in North Dakota. For example, 200 workers were laid off in Minot when Sykes closed its call center in March. Low oil prices are also affecting employment in the once-booming Williston area. The state reported 51 rigs in operation this past March, about half of November levels. Each rig reportedly supports 40 jobs.

Ronald A. Wirtz