Of Course! Regular readers of this blog know that I've got a soft spot in my heart (head?) for the Land of Flat. I lived there (Minot Air Force Base) for a year and a half while growing up, and it was one of the nicest places I've ever been.
Sure, it gets a bit nippy there in the winter. And every decade or so Grand Forks gets washed away by the Red River. But aside from that, it's what Paradise would look like if Paradise was a vast, featureless plain.
So whenever news from North Dakota pops up, my ears perk up. And news from North Dakota usually puts a smile on my face, because it somehow always seems to run contrary to whatever other doom and gloom stories happen to be running out there. My last post on North Dakota was about how the entire state had a grand total of two murders last year, and neither of them was a shooting. Yup, the per capita murder rate was less than a third of some of the more orderly continental European nations; and the per capita gun murder rate was 0.00.
And then my reader/commenter/co-blogger Roger Z left a comment with some additional North Dakota news that brought a smile to my face: The state has a growing number of millionaire oil tycoons. Turns out that there's a hefty amount of oil under the ground in big swathes of the state; and the ground in question is divided up into family farms that have been in their respective families for generations. A lot of long-time farmers are putting an oil well or two out in their fields, getting wealthy, and staying farmers--continuing to drive around the old beat-up pickups and tractors.
Then, of course, there was the North Dakota story from last December, which alleged that it has the most corrupt state government in the union. Of course, there were so many irregularities in the way they handled their statistics and interpreted the results, that it makes one wish that the reporters had actually spent some time in the North Dakota school system--because then their reasoning skills would likely have been better, and they wouldn't have written the story in the first place.
Well, today I saw a new North Dakota story, that again made me smile. Courtesy of the Instapundit, it appears that the only two areas of the country to have improving employment figures over the last month were the District of Columbia, and North Dakota.
And it's pretty obvious why the District of Columbia had increases in employment, so I'm not so impressed there. Even so their story isn't great; their overall unemployment rate is much higher than the national average.
But North Dakota? It was the only state to have unemployment drop in the last month. There were three others where unemployment stayed even; the other 46 states saw increases of varying magnitudes. My home state of California, I'm ashamed to say, has an unemployment rate of well over 11%--and that's dragging the national average up.
And North Dakota? According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics:
In March, Michigan again reported the highest jobless rate, 12.6 percent. The states with the next highest rates were Oregon, 12.1 percent; South Carolina, 11.4 percent; California, 11.2 percent; North Carolina, 10.8 percent; Rhode Island, 10.5 percent; Nevada, 10.4 percent; and Indiana, 10.0 percent. Nine additional states and the District of Columbia recorded unemployment rates of at least 9.0 percent. The California and North Carolina rates were the highest on record for those states. (All state series begin in 1976.) North Dakota registered the lowest unemployment rate, 4.2 percent, in March. Overall, 12 states and the District of Columbia had significantly higher jobless rates than the U.S. figure of 8.5 percent, 25 states reported measurably lower rates, and 13 states had rates little different from that of the nation. (See tables A and 3.)Emphasis added, of course.
You know, I suspect I need to post about bad news from North Dakota sometime; something looks bad about the state, I post it. But I suspect I'd be waiting a long, long time before coming across such a story, unless the headline was something like "Spring Thaw on Lake Sakakawea Sends Idiot's Car to the Bottom."
But that one happens every year, so it's not exactly news, it's more like a sporting event that people bet on: "What day is the ice going to break, and whose car is going to get dunked?"
Anyway, good to see more news from North Dakota. News from my former home state nearly always makes me proud to be from there, and even a little homesick--unless it's news about the weather.