Want a job? Go to the frozen tundra of North Dakota. Massive oil and gas production has helped the unemployment rate to fall to 2.6 percent. Starting wages for flipping burgers is said to run $15 to $18 an hour, while a truck driver can net near a six figure income. There is no need for complaint about the minimum wage in a state economy that creates jobs at a rapid pace.
North Dakota is by far the leader of the pack in terms of job creation over the past 12 months. Florida, Georgia, Oregon, and Texas round out the top five job creating states.
Though not a state, at the other end of the spectrum, Puerto Rico is bleeding badly. A total of 25,000 fewer people are working there now compared to a year ago. Its bond has not been officially classified into junk status.
Jobs will be ever more important for home buying as affordability conditions have been coming down. Home prices are rising much faster than income. Moreover, mortgage rates will likely rise over the course of the year.
The table below lists the full ranking of job growth rates by states and U.S. territories.
President Obama made the following comment in his recent State of the Union speech: “One of the biggest factors in bringing more jobs back is our commitment to American energy. The all-of-the-above energy strategy I announced a few years ago is working, and today, America is closer to energy independence than we’ve been in decades.” Irrespective of whether the President or private oil producers should get the credit, America is importing much less oil now than in any recent memory. Let’s hope that some of the big oil winners do what Rockefeller, the first U.S. oil producer, did with his oil money. He gave a sizable chunk to charities, including setting up many historically African American institutions of higher learning like Spelman College in Atlanta. As a result, many African American teachers graduated from there and passed on knowledge to poor rural schools across the South. The literacy rate among African Americans went from 20% before the giving to over 80% by the time of Rockefeller’s passing.
Lawrence Yun is Chief Economist and Senior Vice President of Research at NAR. He directs research activity for the association and regularly provides commentary on real estate market trends for its 1 million REALTOR® members.