Reid Wilson is the author of Read In, The Post’s morning tipsheet on politics. If you have a candidate for best state, e-mail email@example.com.
After years of recession and a weak recovery, 2014 may be remembered as the year the U.S. economy regained its footing. It was the best year for job growth since 1999, and economists predict strong growth in gross domestic product next year, too.
The state that led the way in job creation, though, was one that never really slowed down: North Dakota.
Credit the Bakken oil fields, which have fueled an energy boom that kept North Dakotans employed even in the depths of the recession. The state’s population has boomed, its median income has climbed more than 10 percent in the past six years, and its unemployment rate, 2.7 percent, is the lowest in the country. This was one of the reasons we gave North Dakota the Best State award last spring.
And the good news just keeps coming: North Dakota added 21,800 jobs between November 2013 and November 2014 — a 4.8 percent increase, higher than in any other state, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Thirty-three states and the District had employment growth of 1 percent or more in 2014, according to an analysis by Stateline, a project of the Pew Charitable Trusts. Texas and Utah both saw increases of more than 3 percent in the number of jobs added.
Thirteen states gained at least 50,000 jobs last year, led by Texas, with 417,000 new positions. California added 327,000 jobs, and Florida tacked on an additional 216,000, both gains of more than 2 percent.
Only two states, Alaska and Mississippi, saw their job numbers fall. Both lost about 1,000 positions, declines of less than 1 percent. The unemployment rate rose in seven states — including North Dakota, a testament to the number of people moving there to seek work in the high-paying oil industry.
The falling price of oil has some in North Dakota concerned that the boom might not last. With prices down more than 20 percent in just the past month, tax revenue will slump. But the state thought ahead: It saved more than $2 billion in a rainy-day fund, which will help mitigate any difficult times.
For now, the good times are rolling in North Dakota, the state that had the best job growth in 2014.