North Dakota’s Booming Economy Gives the Political Dynamic a Rarefied Air
The economy is so good in North Dakota, it’s almost like being in another country.
Although Friday’s lackluster national jobs report may have intensified the already deep anxiety among voters about the sluggish state of the economy, here in the nation’s northern reaches, the concerns are exactly the opposite: how to build roads and schools and houses fast enough to keep up with an astounding population boom that has sprung up alongside the country’s most roaring state-level economy.
Good years for North Dakota farming, a new technology sector and — most significant — a dramatic oil rush in the state’s west and north have combined to produce an economic explosion that is the envy of the rest of the country — a 3 percent unemployment rate and rising household incomes and state revenue.
How this optimistic story is affecting the state’s unexpectedly tight Senate race to replace Kent Conrad, the retiring 26-year Democratic incumbent, is an open question. But in these tough economic times, North Dakota is the rare place where the heated political debate is not so relentlessly tied to dreary economic news.