The Richest State That Nobody Knows About: North Dakota

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How would you like to live in a state with 2.8% unemployment, a 1 billion dollar budget surplus, and a GDP that’s 29% above the national average? After the economic downturn of 2009, it’s hard to believe that those economic conditions exist anywhere in the U.S., but they do… in North Dakota.

You’re probably searching for a reason to explain how North Dakota, a state of empty plains and rural towns, could be such an economic powerhouse.

Well, the reason is actually pretty simple: North Dakota sits atop one of the largest deposits of crude oil in the world, the Bakken shale formation. So if North Dakota is chock full of oil, why didn’t all this happen sooner?

The Bakken formation was discovered way back in the 1950s, but drilling companies couldn’t figure out an efficient way to break through its unique geological structure until 2006 (Directional drilling and hydraulic fracturing turned out to do the trick).

From 2006 to 2014, production skyrocketed from 100 thousand barrels per day to over 1.2 million, and as you can imagine, the influx of new industry changed the region dramatically. As production increased, practically all signs of economic stagnation started to disappear. If anything, North Dakota found out what it’s like to have an economy that’s too strong instead of not strong enough. What a problem to have!

Hearing the effects of the boom is one thing, but seeing them is another. Check out the graphic below for a visual representation of how the Bakken oil boom has exploded North Dakota’s economy.

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via The Economics of the Bakken Oil Boom

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