What Are The Biggest Industries In North Dakota?

A field in North Dakota.
A field in North Dakota.

North Dakota is located in the Northern and Midwestern regions of the US. It is the 4th, most sparsely populated and the fourth smallest by population count. The state is the 19th largest regarding land area. North Dakota joined the Union in 1889, together with its neighboring state of South Dakota. The capital of the state is Bismarck while Fargo is the largest city. North Dakota host the tallest human-made structure in the Western Hemisphere, which is the KVLY-TV mast. At the turn of the 21st century, natural resources in the state played a significant role, especially the extraction of oil in the Bakken Formation in the North-Western region of the state. This development resulted in the growth of population, resulting in reduced unemployment rates, making it one of the states with the lowest unemployment rates in the country.


The earliest industry in the state was agriculture and trading of fur. Presently, not more than ten percent of the state’s population is engaged in agriculture industry, although it remains one of the most significant industries in the state. North Dakota is ranked at position nine in the country in terms of value crops produced and the 18th regarding the total value of output of agricultural items sold. Farming is on an industrial scale, and large farms produce most crops. Approximately 90% of the land area in North Dakota is farmlands which cover an area of 27.5 million acres of cropland, which is the 3rd-largest in the country. North Dakota is among the leading states in producing different cereals in the country such as barley which the state produces 36% of the country’s total output. The state also produces about 15% of the country’s total output of wheat. It is also the country’s leader in producing different types of oilseeds, which include 94% of flax seeds produced in the country, 92% of total canola in the US, 62% of all mustard seed in the country, 53% of the total sunflower seeds produced, and 18% of the total safflower produced in the country.

Energy Industry

The energy industry is one of the major drivers of North Dakota’s economy. The state produces shale gas and has vast reserves of oil and coal. It has large reserves of lignite coal, and it is the largest producer in the country. The mineral is found in the western part of North Dakota, and they are utilized in generating approximately ninety percent of the power used in the state. Electricity generated is also sold to the nearest states. The valuable commodity discovered in the state in 1951 in the area near Tioga, and as of 1984, it was producing an average of 53million barrels annually. In the recent past, recoverable oil has increased significantly. It is estimated that Bakken Formation could be having about 400billion barrels of oil, which is about 25 times bigger than reserves found at the Arctic Refuge in Alaska. As of 2012, North Dakota was ranked as the second-largest producer of oil in the country averaging more than 500,000 barrels every day. North Dakota’s oil boom was experienced in the north-western region of the state in the area around Tioga, Williston, Minot, Burlington, and Stanley. North Dakota’s wind energy has been so effective because of the huge expanse of rural areas and the speeds of wind hardly drop below 10 miles per hour.

Tourism Industry

Although the state is among the least toured states in the country, tourism still plays a major role in the economy of the state. North Dakota does not have so many major tourist attractions. However, tourism is the 3rd-largest industry in the state and contributes about $3billion into the economy of the state every year. Some of the tourist attractions in the state include the 144 mile trail of Maah Daah Hey, with popular activities such as hunting and fishing. Other attractions include the Lewis and Clark historic trail and Theodore Roosevelt National Park, which receives more than 45,000 tourists every year. In 2013, an average of 24 million visitors toured North Dakota, and tourism expenditures were about $3.6 billion. In the same year, tourism generated more than $370 million in taxes for both the local and state government. Tourism accounts for about 3.6% of the state gross domestic product and generate approximately 5% of local and state taxes.

Transport Industry

North Dakota Department of transportation is in-charge of transport in the States. Some of the main interstate highways in North Dakota include Interstate 94 and Interstate 29 having I-94 and I-29 joining at Fargo. Almost all Interstate highways in North Dakota are unique because they are all covered with concrete as opposed to the blacktop, due to severe weather conditions in the region. The Canadian Pacific Railway (CP Rail) and BNSF run the largest rail system in the state. Most of the rail lines which were used by CP Rail and BNSF are currently operated by Missouri Valley, Dakota, and Western Railroad. Some of the leading airports include Sloulin Field International Airport in Williston, Hector International Airport in the city of Fargo, Minot International Airport, Grand Forks International Airport, and Bismarck Municipal Airport.

The Economy Of North Dakota

The economy of North Dakota in the second quarter of 2018 had a gross domestic product of $55.18 billion. Between 2013 and 2017 the state had per capita income of about $34,256. Between 2009 and 2013, North Dakota was the leading state in the whole country in job creation, with 40 points in job creation index, which was about 10 points ahead of its closest competitor. North Dakota is the only state in the country that owns a bank, the Bank of North Dakota in the city of Bismarck. The North Dakota Mill and Elevator flour mill in Grand forks, which is also state-owned. The two organizations were founded by NPL before WWII. The city of Fargo has the second-largest Microsoft’s campus that employs about 1,700 people. Similarly, amazon.com in Grand forks employs hundreds of residents. The unemployment rate in North Dakota as of December 2018 was 2.7%, which was the lowest in the country. The unemployment rate in the state has never reached 5% since 1987.


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