Oil makes an impact on North Dakota and its public services.
YOU MAY THINK that the oil boom in North Dakota is all good news: Ever since a wide swath of the state’s western plains was loosened up with hydraulic fracturing (fracking) five years ago, production has gone from about 200,000 to 1.1 million barrels every day. There are so many well-paying jobs, people are flocking to what’s called the Bakken oil patch to make more money than they could dream of earning just about anywhere else in the country.
Truck drivers make $90,000 a year. Unemployment, at 2.8 percent, is the lowest in the nation. The average wage increased a whopping 44 percent between 2007 and 2013. Landowners are raking in revenues from mineral rights at thousands of dollars per acre, plus royalties for the oil. “If you’re getting those royalty checks, it’s like winning the lottery every day,” says Gary Feist, president of North Dakota Public Employees, and vice president of public employees for North Dakota United.