County Average Wages in ND, 2015

As part of a deeper look at many factors related to North Dakota economic development, growth, and, for lack of a better term, “transition” I am looking at a broad set of data (even broader than normal). Think of it as a jigsaw puzzle where you do not know the number of pieces ahead of time and do not know the end picture you need to assemble. That is kind of where I am right now. That said, I thought I could share a recent picture I made.

There is such an interest in wages, wage levels, and minimum wages both nationally and locally that I thought this picture from 2015 might be of interest to some. It is not a surprise that the “hot spot” for average annual wage/salary compensation is the Bakken region. I think the bigger surprise is the stunning lack of variation in about two-thirds of the state! This is the latest available data from BEA, though I suspect the 2016 data will show a bit of a reversal much like in other maps I made.

This is why North Dakota is so interesting right now. The commodity cycle and fracking innovations created a confluence of events that gave a small region of the state an amazing run in broad based economic activity. The question facing the state and local areas now is whether there was (or is) an ability to capitalize on that into sustained development and growth, or if there is a need to wait for future confluences to exploit these benefits again.

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