North Dakota's average per capita income reached $57,084 in 2013, double what it was in 2004. That's pretty astonishing.
Thank the farm and ranch and oil and gas industries.
Nationally, it puts the state No. 2 behind Connecticut, which has an average per capita income of $60,847.
In terms of the size of the increase last year, personal income in North Dakota led the nation with a bump up of 7.6 percent. North Dakota has had the highest growth of personal income among the states in six of the last seven years. We'll take this good news with pleasure. Especially since the state, historically, has had more than its share of lean times.
Much of the increase comes from the oil and gas industry, but not all of it. Agribusiness has also been a steady performer in the past decade. Oil and gas has been a change for the state, and agribusiness has diversified and grown into new markets.
The sustained improvement of personal income has meant that pay has increased for all workers in nearly every kind of business or industry. It has boosted the paycheck for almost everyone from the service industry's entry level to energy's top management. All of the boats are floating on this rising income trend.
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North Dakota should continue to work to diversify its economy. The oil and gas industries have good futures ahead; however, they are also susceptible to dramatic swings due to political changes around the globe and in Washington. The ag sector, too, can be price and weather sensitive to a fault. A diversified economy protects the state in general.
Higher incomes, and more job opportunities, also translate into a larger population. Williston, for the third year in a row, is the fastest growing micropolitan (a population of between 10,000 and 50,000) area in the nation. Dickinson and other communities throughout the oil patch are growing rapidly, but so, too, is the number of people moving to Bismarck and Fargo.
A growing population is a North Dakota phenomenon, as are growing wages and benefits.
Certainly, there remain individuals who are economically vulnerable and geographic pockets of the state that have not seen as much growth. But as a whole, North Dakotans are doing well.