1.7%: Metro Areas Near Canada Have Nation's Lowest Unemployment

By Ali Meyer | December 9, 2013 | 6:02pm EST

Oil well in North Dakota. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull)

(CNSNews.com) - Bismarck, Fargo and Grand Forks--all in North Dakota--were the three metropolitan areas with the lowest unemployment rates in the nation in October, according to data released last week the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The metropolitan areas of Burlington, Vt., and Mankato, Minn., were also among the top ten metro areas for lowest unemployment in October. That means that 5 of nation's top ten metro areas for low unemployment were in states bordering on Canada. (The two metro areas with the highest unemployment rates in October were both along the U.S.-Mexico border. See related story.)

The national unemployment rate, which stood at 7.3 percent in October, was more than four times higher than the 1.8 percent rate in Bismarck.

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The top ten metropolitan areas for low unemployment in October were: 1) Bismarck, N.D., 1.7 percent, 2) Fargo, N.D., 2.3 percent, 3) Grand Forks, N.D., 2.5 percent; 4) Sioux Falls, S.D., 2.9 percent, 5) Iowa City, Iowa, 3 percent; 6) Ames, Iowa, 3 percent; 7) Lincoln, Neb., 3.1 percent; 8) Midland, Texas, 3.1 percent; 9) Burlington, Vt., 3.2 percent; and 10) Mankato, Minn., 3.3 percent.

One reason for low unemployment in North Dakota is the booming oil and gas industry there, according to the North Dakota Petroleum Council.

“The oil and gas industry continues to be an important driver of North Dakota’s economy and job growth,” said Tessa Sandstrom, communications manager for the North Dakota Petroleum Council.

“According to our most recent economic study, the oil and gas industry supported nearly 60,000 direct and indirect jobs in 2011,” said Sandstrom. “While the industry’s direct impacts are significant for western North Dakota, including in Williston, where unemployment is below 1%, those impacts do have a ripple-effect that has helped create many new value-added and business opportunities throughout the state, leading to even larger secondary impacts across many of our state’s economic sectors.

“While the oil and gas industry has been important to job growth, it is just one part of a growing and diversified state economy, and the industry remains committed to creating partnerships with all industries to continue growing our overall state economy,” said Sandstrom.

Republican Rep. Kevin Cramer, who represents North Dakota in Congress, also attributes the low unemployment in the state to a tax and regulatory environment that favors job growth.

“Bismarck is the Capital city of one of the most business friendly states in the country,” said Cramer. Our legal, tax and regulatory climate reflects the attitude of citizens who understand pro-business means pro-jobs. It is a culture that needs to be duplicated across America.”

Midland, Texas, like North Dakota, is also benefiting from energy production, a fact noted by Rep. Mike Conaway, (R-TX) who represents the Midland, Texas area in Congress.

“Central and West Texas have a low unemployment rate thanks to smart business decisions made by companies, particularly energy companies, and the strong work ethic of the folks who live there,” said Rep. Conaway.

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