Study shows North Dakota oil industry progressing

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BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — North Dakota’s oil industry is growing, with more long-term jobs to sustain production and fewer temporary workers, according to a new economic impact study.

The study, conducted by North Dakota State University researchers, finds the oil industry had a $32.6 billion impact on the state’s economy in 2017, the Bismarck Tribune reported.

Dean Bangsund, research scientist with NDSU’s Department of Agribusiness and Applied Economics, detailed some of his most recent conclusions at the state Capitol earlier this week.

In 2015, the data of temporary and long-term workers were almost equivalent for the first time. Long-term workers became the largest sector from 2016-2018, according to the study.

“This has probably happened faster than we thought,” Bangsund said.

Shawn Wenko, economic development director for Williston, said the shift to a more permanent workforce has led to increased birth rates and growing school enrollment numbers in the western part of the state.

“More families are now coming to the area; they’re calling Williston home,” Wenko said.

The number of oil industry workers peaked in 2014 with roughly 63,000 workers, according to data from Job Service North Dakota.

The abrupt drop in oil prices caused the workforce numbers to drop, hitting a low in 2016 of about 30,000 oil industry workers, according to the study. By 2018, the industry workforce numbers reached an estimated 35,800.

The study showed that the state’s overall employment numbers mirrored the trend with the oil industry.

“The petroleum industry has such a large presence in the state,” Bangsund said. “When employment goes up and down, the state’s employment goes up and down, almost in sync.”

North Dakota has dealt with “huge swings” in the economic impact from the oil industry since 2011, with highs and lows of $8 billion to $10 billion every two years, Bangsund said.

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