Reader’s view: Without oil and gas, North Dakota isn’t muchHow nice that the CEO of the North Dakota Chamber of Commerce wrote a column for his hometown paper to cheer on Minnesota businesses to imitate North Dakota — or else to simply move there (A view from North Dakota: “Minnesota can learn from North Dakota’s business model”).
By: Charlie Quimby, Duluth News Tribune
How nice that the CEO of the North Dakota Chamber of Commerce wrote a column for his hometown paper to cheer on Minnesota businesses to imitate North Dakota — or else to simply move there (A view from North Dakota: “Minnesota can learn from North Dakota’s business model”).
Before anyone pulls up stakes for the greener grass across the Red River, let’s look closely at Andy Peterson’s business-climate claims.
He declared the impact of the oil and gas boom is overblown. Why, “only 25 percent of the state’s tax revenue” comes from that industry. Compare that to Minnesota, where mining produced
0.5 percent of the state’s tax revenue in 2011, and where taxes from all corporations kicked in 4 percent.
Peterson wrote, “Of the more than 24,000 jobs available in North Dakota, nearly 66 percent are outside of the oil-producing counties.” Of course they are. The top five counties had barely 20,000 people before the boom began. And consider all the other sectors that depend on oil and gas expansion: trucking, construction, hospitality and even education and health services. How many of those support jobs could find a foothold in the small towns near the oil patch?
Then there was the claim that “North Dakota is a national leader in manufacturing growth.” According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the state had a 12-month, 4.6 percent manufacturing growth rate as of April, definitely beating Minnesota’s 1.7 percent rate, but that’s off a small base. Minnesota has 305,500 manufacturing jobs while our neighbor to the northwest just crept over 24,000 in December — up a total of 1,000 jobs compared to 10 years ago.
Take away oil and gas, which has been growing at a 44 percent rate, plus all the employment serving that industry, and the North Dakota miracle looks like nothing to write home about.
Golden Valley, Minn.
The writer is a communication fellow for the St. Paul-based, progressive think tank Growth & Justice, which focuses on Minnesota business and taxation issues.