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Legislative Report District 13: Statistics released good news for the state

Many interesting statistics were given to the Government Services Interim Committee this week. All in all, it was very good news and where there is always some negative to go along with it, it shows that North Dakota is indeed very prosperous at this time. The statistics are provided by several agencies including Job Service North Dakota, Labor Market Information Center Bureau of Economic Analysis, the Foreign Trade Division, U.S, Census Bureau, and other state agencies.

Since 2000, the number of new jobs in North Dakota has grown from 327,700 to 394,200 in 2011, an increase of 20 percent while the national non-farm employment has decreased .32 percent.

Again from 2000, average wages have increased from $24,683 /year to $41,778, an increase of 69.3 percent, and the state rank has changed from 49th to 30th. The percent of U.S. average has risen from 69.88 percent to 86.97 percent.

Per capita personal income in North Dakota has increased from $25,592 in 2000 to $45,747 in 2011. That is an increase of 78.8 percent. The percent of U.S. average went from 84.4 percent to 109.8 percent and the rank went from 38th to 9th.

The Gross Domestic Product has grown 120.8 percent. GDP was $18,266,000 11 years ago and in 2011 it grew to $40,328,000. The average annual growth rate has been 7.52 percent.

Exports have grown from a value of $625,900,000 in 2000 to $3,393,100,000 in 2011, an increase of 440 percent. Nationally, exports have increased 89.35 percent over the same time frame.

One final statistic that has increased over the last 10 years and for the first time in North Dakota since the 40's is the state population. The state has grown 41,909 to approximately 683,950 an increase of 6.5 percent. The nation as a whole had a population increase of 10.4 percent.

These are great statistics for North Dakota, and this translates into higher revenues for the state treasurer. In fact, the projected surplus as determined by the State Office of Budget and Management is approximately $1.6 billion. Increased oil production and high prices, sales tax, personal income tax and other revenues all contribute to the surplus. It appears that, despite a drought over much of the state, farm production and prices have also increased and are contributing to the surplus, as well as many other types of business. It has been a good couple of years for North Dakota.

Of course, with this rapid growth, many problems have occurred. The infrastructure, mainly in the western part of the state is in need of repair. It has been estimated that over the whole state, the cost of repairing county and township roads is $7 billion over the next 20 years. On top of that, some state and federal roads will also need repair, not to mention bridges all over the state. This does not include disasters, if they occur. In addition, education costs will increase, crime has increased and health issues will need to be addressed.

The session in 2013 will address all of the problems and will also try to assist in decreasing property taxes. This session, the legislature will have its hands full, and it will be a long and hard session. When there are surplus funds, everyone wants more, and there is no shortage of ideas as to how to spend it all.

Hopefully, there will be some ways to try and save some too, because things can change.