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The recession is giving great press to North Dakota. Business Week is the latest national publication to admire the low unemployment rates on the Great Plains amidst the jobless carnage in the rest of the country. Business Week writer Rebecca Reisner goes to Bismarck and finds a city that “has remained largely unmarred by the global financial crisis, which has wrecked the U.S. housing industry, felled hundreds of banks of all sizes, and sent the national unemployment rate to nearly 10%. Right now, Bismarck residents have scant reason to worry.” (Remember, however, that the Yonder found that these low unemployment rates were helped in part by outmigration.)
Reisner notes that farm commodity prices are expected to fall. But it’s energy, especially wind energy, that holds the greatest promise for new jobs. North Dakota does have optimal conditions for wind farms, and wind farms are being built, including the $250 million, 77-turbine PrairieWinds ND1 project near Minot. It will be the largest wind project owned by an electric cooperative (the Basin Electric Power Cooperative). The state also has 3 to 4 billion barrels of recoverable oil.
No wonder North Dakota has a $1 billion budget surplus. Property taxes have been lowered and because no flakey “liar loans” were given in North Dakota, the state doesn’t have a foreclosure problem.