Why North Dakota Students Don't Need To Graduate To Find Jobs

North Dakota students basic creditsIf California is the Golden State, and Florida is the Sunshine State then North Dakota might as well be the Employment State.

Though its formal nickname is the Peace Garden State, North Dakota currently has the lowest unemployment rate in the U.S. at 3.5 percent. That's 5.6 points lower than the national tally of 9.1, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

And as a story on CNN Money demonstrates, the fortunes of North Dakota's 650,000 residents rest in large part on an energy boom. The state's petroleum industry has been such an employment gusher that some students have ditched their studies to work in the oil fields.

Sizing up the employment vs. studies dynamic, a Williston State College professor interviewed by CNN Money put it plainly: "At some point they decide, 'Well, college will always be here ... but the oil boom won't.' "

With no mandate for a completed undergraduate degree required to occupy many energy sector jobs, the North Dakota residents are looking at salaries averaging around $100,000. Most of the jobs are in rigs work, including maintenance, or on the oil wells themselves.

The chance to cash in on jobs tied to the black gold has contributed to a graduation rate of roughly 35 percent at Williston State, which offers two-year associate degrees.

"A lot of students are getting a few credits they need -- like one or two welding courses -- and entering the labor market," Mike Hillman, the chancellor for academic and student affairs with the North Dakota University System told CNN Money, adding that he expects the figure to drop even further as the jobs continue to emerge.

Those seeking solutions to high unemployment in the U.S. have looked to states like North Dakota, as well as two others recently profiled by AOL Jobs -- Texas and Utah. And they provide valuable lessons.

In Texas, the state jobs boom has been a centerpiece of Gov. Rick Perry's presidential campaign. As he touts himself as "America's Jobs Governor," Perry points to the oft-cited retort that Texas "has created more jobs over the last decade than the rest of the states combined."

Indeed, Texas has seen a net gain of 907,000 jobs between December 2000 and December 2010. The entire payroll in the U.S. grew by 1.6 million jobs during the span, as PolitiFact, the fact-check project, puts it.

"Texas is quite a low-regulation state. It's cheaper to do business here than quite a few other states," Mine Yucel, senior economist and vice president with the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas said in an interview with ABC News. The nation's woes at the gas pump are also being credited for boosting the Texas economy. In 2009, the average price of gas was $2.35 per gallon. That figure now stands at $3.60, providing additional revenue for the state.

But PolitiFact took issue with Perry's contention that Texas created more jobs "than the rest of the states combined." The claim, it says, only holds up when comparing Texas to states that have also had a net positive job gain over the last decade, leaving out 31 others.

Critics also say that the jobs numbers must be appreciated in the context of other economic factors in Texas. That state has the highest rate of uninsured workers in the nation at 27.4 percent, according to research conducted by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation in conjunction with the State Health Access Data Assistance Center at the University of Minnesota.

In Utah, its consistent attraction to tech companies, and the jobs they bring, has been chalked up to the state's regulatory framework.

While Utah is not alone in offering tax credit incentives to companies doing business in-state, its Economic Development Tax Increment Financing (EDTIF) system is set apart by making its credit post-performance based, says Michael Sullivan, the director of communications with the Governor's Office of Economic Development

"Our program is sustainable," he says in an interview with AOL Jobs. "States are suing companies for return of tax incentives. We don't ever have to sue anybody, because we collect the dollar before we give the quarter back." But the state's energy sector is also in play.

"There's a laundry list of reasons for why this is happening," Marty Carpenter, spokesman for the statewide Salt Lake Chamber of Commerce, told AOL Jobs. "We have the lowest energy rates in the country," he emphasized, before noting a host of other reasons. Indeed, energy costs are on average 35 percent lower in Utah than the national average.

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i can spell today centreal not centrol

November 07 2011 at 11:08 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

the pay maybe great but when it comes to safty the oilfield dosenot care it's all about the time and money not about the safty of the guy's working on the drilling rigs tell you what if you can get true channle on you'r t.v. nov. 30,2011 blackgold comes on 10:00 p.m 9:00 centrol

November 07 2011 at 11:07 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

. There are oil deposits all over the U.S. Let's put people to work drilling for the oil. And lets reduce the need to import oil from the middle east. The democrats keep talking about jobs and continue to finance companies that contribute to their campaigns only to have those companies go broke at the taxpayers expense. Mean while we have an industry that is being restricted and could provide thousands of jobs being held hostage by the government

The liberals don't like foreign oil. They don't like drilling here and keep talking about cars that don't need gas. Excuse me but all cars need gas to operate unless you want one that will take you only a few miles before you have to recharge their expensive batteries. That little flaw hasn't raised its nasty head yet but when the batteries start to have to be replaced watch out. The technology hasn't been developed to replace gas driven cars for everyday normal use. In addition these small cars are death traps. They are made as light as possible and barely meet the minimum safety standards. I want to live, I don't think saving a couple of bucks on gas is worth being severely injured or killed.

November 03 2011 at 7:37 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I grew up in ND and have lived on the East Coast and now the West Coast. Let me tell you a few things about ND that aren't mentioned. Whether you know it or not, Agriculture is the biggest business in the State and the commodity prices are very favorable now and the farmers are also doing very well. The other thing that wasn't mentioned is that edication is one of the cheapest in the country. A short time ago (July 16, 2011 Wall Street Journey had an article that there are a lot of out of state students coming to ND to go to college. As a matter of fact at North Dakota State University 55% of the student are from out of state. Out-of-Sate tuition runs about $10,000 a year and most students pay more than that for in-State-tuition in their home State.

You are right the winters leave a lot to be desired and they traditional have a lot of flooding every spring when the snow melts. Minot had a lot of flooding this past spring and I think over 10,000 home were flooded in that town alone. And you would think the first thing most people would do would be to ask for Government help. However, that is not the way the people up there opperate. Very few people went to the shelters but instead friends, neighbors, family or perfect strangers would take them in.

As far as the oil boom, that is a result of the new technology that allows them to extract the oil from shale and they drill down and then drill horizontally to extract the oil. According to the US Geological Survey the Bakken Oil Reserves, which covers western ND, eastern Montana and into Canada, could have as much 24 billion barrels of oil that could be extracted right now.. Google Bakken Oil Reserve and U.S. Geololical Survey.

Housing is short now but that is booming too with all the people moving in. .If you want a job, you have to make some sacrifices. Oh, what am I saying, it would be so much better if the Government would just support me.

November 03 2011 at 3:43 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

"But PolitiFact took issue with Perry's contention that Texas created more jobs "than the rest of the states combined." The claim, it says, only holds up when comparing Texas to states that have also had a net positive job gain over the last decade, leaving out 31 others."

Gee whiz, PolitiFact, maybe that's because if you add negative job growth to the positive job growth of the other states that added jobs the differential becomes more drastic.

November 03 2011 at 3:01 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
LA is Best


November 03 2011 at 2:19 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

My husband worked in the oil fields here in California for 30yrs sure didn't hurt him. Hard work never killed any one and he now has been retired for over 25 yrs and at the age of 86 he is still going. If these people really want to work and work hard they should go for it . Cold and what ever. It is not a lazy mans work that is for sure.

November 03 2011 at 1:10 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Exactly... ENERGY COSTS.... something the environmentalist want to raise through the roof..... Gert real America,, toss these AL GORE types....

November 03 2011 at 12:36 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

I'mon my way back.................

November 03 2011 at 12:01 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

When oh when will our idiotic government let the oil companies drill in the US???!!

November 02 2011 at 11:36 PM Report abuse +4 rate up rate down Reply

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