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North Dakota's Industrial Employment Rebounds

Contact: Jennifer Ratcliff
Manufacturers’ News, Inc.
(847) 864-9440 ext. 241
jratcliff [at]

EVANSTON, Ill, July 23rd, 2018 Manufacturers’ News, Inc./--North Dakota’s industrial employment edged up in the past year, following two straight years of gains, according to data collected by MNI (Manufacturers’ News, Inc.) compiler and publisher of industrial data for all fifty states. MNI reports North Dakota added 821 industrial jobs from May 2017 to May 2018, a nearly 2% gain.

North Dakota is now home to 1,251 manufacturers employing 45,025. The state’s industrial employment skyrocketed during the oil boom, growing by a third between 2012 and 2015. MNI reported a 6% loss in jobs during the 2015-2016 survey period, which marked the sector’s first decline in many years. The state shed another 1% of its industrial workforce during the 2016-2017 survey period.

“Oil prices are nearing a three-year high and this is helping North Dakota’s oil & gas sector increase production and recoup some of the jobs lost during the recent downturn,” says Tom Dubin, President of the Evanston, IL-based publishing company, which has been surveying industry since 1912. “However, technology and innovation is lacking in North Dakota, and a shortage of capital may deter new operations from setting up shop.”

Gains over this past year were led by the oil/gas extraction sector. Employment in that sector rebounded somewhat, growing by 6% to 6,492 workers.

Industrial machinery, which ranks first in the state for manufacturing employment, also posted a gain, up 1.5% to 9,113 jobs.

Other industries reporting gains included the lumber/wood sector, which surged 16%; transportation equipment, up 9.4%; fabricated metals, up 3.6%; and rubber/plastics, up 2.2%.

A number of oil & gas companies expanded operations in North Dakota over the year, including the Oneok Bear Creek natural gas processing plant in Killdeer. In addition, a joint venture between Hess Midstream Partners and Targa will bring a massive new gas processing plant to the state, and contract manufacturer Steffes announced an expansion of its facility in Dickinson.

Other bright spots included the expansions of Firebird Artisan Mills in Harvey, as well as Northrop Grumman’s unmanned aerial systems facility in Grand Forks.

These gains were offset by losses in the printing/publishing industry, down 9.8%; primary metals, down 1%; and food processing, down a half percent.

Industrial locations announcing closures included Sunopta Grains & Foods, which shuttered its Wahpeton plan, and Kapstone Container Corp. which shut down its Grand Forks location.

MNI reports North Dakota’s industrial employment gains were most significant in the state’s Northwest region, which shot up 5% to 9,364 jobs. The Northeast of the state saw a gain of 4% to 5,329 jobs, while the Southeast added 1% to its workforce, now home to 23,889 jobs. North Dakota’s Southwest region was the only to post a loss, down a half percent to 6,448 jobs.

City data collected by MNI shows Fargo remains the state’s top city by industrial employment, with 10,381 jobs, down 1.4% over the past year.

Employment rebounded in second-ranked Williston – the epicenter of the state’s oil/gas industry. Industrial jobs in Williston surged 9% over the past year, after declining 6% in the 2016-2017 survey period. Williston currently accounts for 5,476 of North Dakota’s industrial workers.

Third-ranked Grand Forks is home to 3,117 industrial workers, 2% more than a year ago, while fourth-ranked West Fargo is home to 2,975, up 12% over the past year. Dickinson is home to 2,906 workers, down 2.4%.

Established in 1912, MNI is the nation’s oldest and largest compiler of industrial information, offering tailored solutions to help customers connect with 430,000 manufacturers and suppliers. MNI’s industrial marketplace IndustryNet: is a one-stop resource that connects buyers with suppliers of 10,000 + products and services, and allows users to obtain competitive quotes, create and view company profiles, post company news releases, photos, videos, job openings, and more. MNI’s subscription service EZ Select: provides access to MNI’s live interactive database of manufacturers. For more information, contact MNI at 847-864-7000 or visit
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