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The Bakken Oil Boom

The Bakken oil boom dwarfs previous oil production expansions in Montana and North Dakota. Explore a range of economic, demographic and financial data for the Bakken, and learn about factors driving jobs and other forms of development in the oil patch of North Dakota and Montana.
Location of the Bakken in the Ninth District
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Summary

North Dakota is the second largest oil producing state in the country. Oil output has remained high even as drilling activity has declined post-2014.

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Oil Drilling Rigs
Apr 2020 Pct. change from a year earlier
North Dakota 36 20%
Montana 0 100%

Summary

Oil drilling has followed oil prices closely since 2014.

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Production (millions of barrels)
Mar 2020 Pct. change from a year earlier
Bakken Oil Counties 43 2%
Rest of Montana 1 -12%
Rest of North Dakota 2 -3%

Summary

The Bakken area represents most of oil production in Montana and North Dakota.

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Employment (Thousands)1

Apr 2020 Pct. change from a year earlier
Bakken Oil Counties 77.58 1.6%
Rest of Montana 501.74 0.3%
Rest of North Dakota 328.93 -0.4%

Summary

Employment doubled in the Bakken from 2009 to 2015; however, employment levels fell steeply in 2015 and 2016 as oil drilling slowed, before resuming a slow climb until early 2020.

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Unemployment Rate1

Apr 2020 Pct. point change from a year earlier
Bakken Oil Counties 2.6% 0.6%
Rest of Montana 4.2% 0.6%
Rest of North Dakota 2.9% 0.4%

Summary

The decrease in the Bakken unemployment rate following 2009 was sharper than other areas. After increasing with the decline in drilling from 2015 to 2017, unemployment resumed its downward trajectory prior to the COVID-19 pandemic.

1 12-month moving average

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Average Weekly Wages

Fourth
Quarter
2019
Pct. point change from a year earlier
Bakken Oil Counties $1,358 2.0%
Rest of Montana $862 1.9%
Rest of North Dakota $961 1.5%

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Construction

2014 Pct. change from a year earlier
Williston building permits 422 79%

Summary

Construction activity for commercial buildings and residential units began rising sharply in the city of Williston in 2010.

Stark County - Housing units authorized

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Construction

2014 Pct. change from a year earlier
Stark county housing units authorized 601 5%

Summary

Stark County, which includes the city of Dickinson, posted rapid gains in housing units authorized in 2012. Stark County housing units authorized comprised 18 percent of all North Dakota units authorized in 2012. For perspective, Stark County has about 4 percent of the state population.

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Deposits at Median Institution

First
Quarter
2017
Pct. change from a year earlier
Bakken Oil Counties -3.6%
Rest of Montana 3.7%
Rest of North Dakota 1.3%

Summary

Deposit growth at Bakken area banks was particularly strong during 2012 and picked up again in 2014.

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Construction & Land Development Loans at Median Institution

First
Quarter
2017
Pct. change from a year earlier
Bakken Oil Counties -11.8%
Rest of Montana 12.5%
Rest of North Dakota -20.4%

Summary

Commercial and development loans at Bakken area banks increased faster than those at other banks in Montana and North Dakota since 2007.

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Incidence of severe mortgage problems

Jan 2017 Pct. point change from a year earlier
Bakken Oil Counties 2.84% 1.82%
Rest of Montana 1.68% -0.31%
Rest of North Dakota 1.36% -0.03%

Summary

The incidence of serious mortgage problems in the Bakken paralleled mortgage problems in the rest of Montana and North Dakota relatively closely until 2010, when it dropped sharply compared with more modest declines elsewhere.

Note: Mortgages that are 90+ days delinquent, in foreclosure, or post-foreclosure but associated with real estate owned (REO) by lenders, as a percentage of outstanding mortgages. Unlike other data in the Banking section, these data are not restricted to mortgages made or held by Bakken-based banks.

Last Updated July 15, 2020

Video: Kocherlakota speech covering the oil boom

Video: fedgazette Editor Ron Wirtz talks about the fiscal oil boom

Video: fedgazette Senior Writer Phil Davies talks about jobs in the oil patch

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