Location, Location, Location…

As with many other categories, your salary and career options can vary dramatically depending on where you are.  That is true on a national level as well as a state level; especially if that state is North Dakota.  With our “oil boom” in full swing in the western part of the state, I wanted to see just how the numbers compared for Grand Forks versus the oil regions to the west when looking at the same career fields.

The chart below was compiled using the latest data available from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.  You will notice that I have compiled numbers for the state as a whole and then broke it down for Grand Forks compared to the far western part of the state.  Keep in mind that the information did not allow me to focus on only the oil producing regions in the west.  As a general comparison for the two sections, however, I think it gives a great overview.

The first thing that will probably stand out, is that the average weekly salary of Grand Forks County ($734) is slightly less than half of the average weekly salary of Williams County ($1,473), which is the hub of the oil producing region.  To put that on yearly salary terms, that is $38,168 for Grand Forks compared to $76,596 for Williams.  At a quick glance, that does not seem to coincide with the numbers from the chart below, given that the average salary for the far west is given as $43,110 which is nowhere near the Williams County average above.  It must be remembered, however, that there are counties in the far west that are not making near the same as Williams, such as Golden Valley with a weekly average of $637 which calculates to an annual salary of $33124.

According to Job Service, the statewide weekly average for all of North Dakota is $872, which multiplies out to $45,344 for the year.  This is higher than the $38,870 from the chart below which is based on information from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.  A couple of possibilities that may account for this discrepancy are that the Job Service numbers are more recent by a year and the fact that many people will not work a full 52 weeks, which is the multiplier I am using to calculate the annual amounts for the Job Service data.  According to Job Service, average weekly wages increased by 6.3 percent over the last year.  This is an average annual increase of $2,856.

I would like mention a few interesting observations of the data.

  • Of the 22 major career categories used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the salary in the far west is higher for 11 of them, exactly half.  That means Grand Forks actually pays more for many jobs.
  • The largest pay differences are for the Architecture & Engineering field, Construction & Extraction and Transportation & Material Moving.  Of course, the salary in the west is higher for these positions.
  • The largest discrepancy in data between the Bureau of Labor Statistics and Job Service comes in the salaries of jobs related to oil extraction.  Bureau of Labor Statistics cites the average between $50 – $64,000, depending on the job, whereas Job Service gives the range as $94- $106,000, when multiplied out.

I will end with a few quotes from a recent article written by Larry Oakes for the Star Tribune that I found very interesting.

  • “…dormitory style ‘man camps’ that have sprung up across the booming oil patch to help house the influx of an estimated 35,000 workers.”
  • It would have been impossible for the region to handle all the workers without temporary cities known as man camps or crew camps.  Officials estimate up to 20,000 workers are living in such camps, scattered across 17 counties.”
  • “Recruits from Minnesota, Texas and both coasts keep arriving, reversing a long population decline.  Schools are rushing to hire more teachers.  Towns are adding more cops.”
  • “The state’s most recent figures show 16,435 job openings, 48 percent more than a year ago.”
  • “North Dakota went from producing 110,000 barrels of oil a day in the fall of 2006 to 444,000 barrels a day today.  It is expected to pass California and Alaska to become the second-highest oil producing state, behind Texas.”
  • “Experts say the industry could conceivably pump between 4 billion and 24 billion barrels of oil out of the Bakken…  They say there appears to be enough oil to support drilling 48,000 more wells in North Dakota during the next 20 years and give the region a large role in allowing America to achieve energy independence.”
  • “If drilling continues as projected, western North Dakota will have 45,000 wells within two decades, each with a life expectancy of 30 years or more, supporting 45,000 long-term jobs.  That’s in one corner of a state with 647,000 people.”
  • “Williston is straining at the seams.  The population grew from 12,500 to around 20,000 in the past five years.”

 

OCCUPATION CATEGORY AVERAGE SALARY PERCENT OF TOTAL JOBS
Total North Dakota:  $38,870

Grand Forks: $37,640

Far West:  $43,110

ND: 371,630 total workforce

GF: 37,640 total workforce

FW: 46,670 total workforce

Management

 

Ex.: Chief Executives, managers for   sales, marketing, finance, etc.

 

North Dakota:  $88,010

Grand Forks: $85,780

Far West: $93,250

ND:  4.3%

GF:  4.2%

FW:  4%

Business & Financial Operations

 

Purchasing agents, management analysts,   accountants, loan officers, etc.

North Dakota:  $55,100

Grand Forks: $57,370

Far West: $53,750

ND:  3.4%

GF:  3.2%

FW: 2.1%

Computer & Mathematical

 

Computer programmers, software   developers, statisticians, etc.

North Dakota:  $55,030

Grand Forks: $54,550

Far West: $49,510

ND:  1.8%

GF: %1.1

FW:  .3%

Architecture & Engineering

 

Architects, surveyors, various   engineering fields, drafters, etc.

North Dakota:  $68,450

Grand Forks: $54,860

Far West:  $111,900

ND:  1.5%

GF:  1.5%

FW: 1.5%

Life, Physical  & Social   Science

 

Various scientists, urban planners,   geological and petroleum technicians, etc.

North Dakota:  $53,080

Grand Forks: $53,330

Far West: $52,460

ND:  .7%

GF:  1.1%

FW: .7%

Community & Social Service

 

Substance abuse counselors, social   workers, school counselors, etc.

North Dakota:  $40,230

Grand Forks: $39,220

Far West: $37,900

ND:  1.3%

GF:  1.7%

FW:  .9%

Legal

 

Lawyers, judicial law clerks, judges,   court reporters, etc.

North Dakota:   $70,220

Grand Forks: $57,730

Far West: $48,360

ND:  .4%

GF:  .5%

FW:  .5%

Protective Service

Police officers, security guards,   firefighters, fish and game wardens,

 

North Dakota:  $38,060

Grand Forks: $43,520

Far West: $36,070

ND:  1.5%

GF:  1.8%

FW: 1.1%

Education, Training & Library

 

Teachers, college professors,   librarians, farm and home management advisors, etc.

North Dakota:  $42,290

Grand Forks: $49,780

Far West: $38,180

ND:  5.8%

GF:  7.5%

FW:  4.1%

Arts, Design, Entertainment, Sports & Media

 

Graphic designers, florists,   interpreters, photographers, coaches, radio and television announcers,   producers, directors, etc.

North Dakota:  $33,570

Grand Forks:  $35,150

Far West:  $27,500

ND:  1.1%

GF:  1.1%

FW:  .7%

Healthcare Practitioners & Technical

 

Surgeons, physical therapists,   chiropractors, dentists, veterinarians, etc.

North Dakota:  $59,630

Grand Forks: $63,810

Far West: $57,300

ND:  6.1%

GF:  6.5%

FW:  3.9%

Healthcare Support

 

Home health aides, nursing aides,   dental assistants, pharmacy aides, etc.

North Dakota:  $27,010

Grand Forks: $25,390

Far West: $27,630

ND:  3.3%

GF:  4.3%

FW:  2.3%

Food Preparation & Serving

 

Chefs and cooks, dishwashers, waiters,   bartenders, etc.

North Dakota:  $20,430

Grand Forks: $19,850

Far West: $20,920

ND:  9.1%

GF:  11.1%

FW:  7.2%

Building and Grounds Cleaning & Maintenance

 

Janitors, tree trimmers, housekeepers,   maids, etc

North Dakota:  $23,970

Grand Forks: $24,110

Far West: $23,770

ND:  4%

GF:  4.5%

FW:  3.3%

Personal Care & Service

 

Hairdressers, funeral attendants, tour   guides, amusement and recreation attendants, etc.

.

North Dakota:  $23,950

Grand Forks: $23,250

Far West: $27,280

ND:  3.2%

GF: 2.8%

FW: 2.1%

Sales Related

 

Cashiers, insurance agents, sales   representatives, travel agents, telemarketers, etc.

 

 

North Dakota:  $31,790

Grand Forks: $27,430

Far West: $35,470

ND:  10.8%

GF:  11.7%

FW:  7.3%

Office & Administrative Support

 

Tellers, customer service reps, payroll   clerks, receptionists, police dispatchers, mail carriers, etc.

North Dakota:  $30,350

Grand Forks: $30,050

Far West: $30,730

ND:  15.4%

GF:  13.9%

FW:  11.8%

Farming, Fishing & Forestry

 

Agricultural workers, agricultural   inspectors, ranchers, farm laborers, etc.

North Dakota:  $29,330

Grand Forks: $29,680

Far West: $25,890

ND:  .3%

GF:  .3%

FW: .2%

Construction & Extraction

 

Carpenters, tile and marble setters,   electricians, construction supervisors, oil derrick operators, oil drill   operators, oil roustabouts, etc.

North Dakota:  $43,660

Grand Forks: $40,730

Far West: $48,730

ND:  7.6%

GF:  4.5%

FW: 20.5%

Installation, Maintenance & Repair

 

Electronic equipment installers,   security systems installers. Computer repairers, mechanics, appliance repairers,   etc.

North Dakota:  $44,220

Grand Forks: $40,710

Far West: $49,350

ND:  4.8%

GF:  4%

FW: 6.8%

Production (Manufacturing)

 

Meat packers, equipment assemblers,   machinists, welders, cabinetmakers, machine operators, jewelers, etc.

North Dakota:  $35,750

Grand Forks: $35,790

Far West: $39,900

ND:  5.4%

GF:  5.2%

FW:  5.5%

Transportation & Material Moving

 

Pilots, drivers (trucks, buses, taxis),   air traffic controllers,  parking lot   attendants, etc.

North Dakota:  $36,040

Grand Forks:  $31,870

Far West:  $43,860

ND:  8.5%

GF: 7.8%

FW: 13.3%

Darrel Casperson, Career Resource Educator

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