North Dakota has either the lowest unemployment rate in the United States at 2.5%, or almost the lowest, placing third at 3.4%, depending on which figures you want to follow. The lower number isn't seasonally adjusted, as it is in the second figure from U.S. Department of Labor, a practice that other states follow.

Either way, there are a heck of a lot of people with jobs there, as I've seen first-hand on my visits to Fargo, where the sound of hammers pounding away seem to constantly fill the air as construction workers build apartments, townhomes and other places for people moving from small towns in North Dakota and elsewhere to fill the employment need and see the big city of Fargo.

Recession Watch

    A Saudi youth takes a picture of Koenigsegg CCXR, worth nine million Riyal (2,400,128 USD), during a luxury auto exhibition in the Saudi Red Sea city of Jeddah late October 28, 2008. Despite fears of a global recession, economic turmoil and heavy losses in stock markets, Saudi Arabia as well other Gulf countries continue to announce new mega development projects and host luxury exhibitions. AFP PHOTO/OMAR SALEM (Photo credit should read Omar Salem/AFP/Getty Images)

    AFP/Getty Images

    Saudi youths inspect a Koenigsegg CCXR car during a luxury auto exhibition in the Saudi Red Sea city of Jeddah late October 28, 2008. Despite fears of a global recession, economic turmoil and heavy losses in stock markets, Saudi Arabia as well other Gulf countries continue to announce new mega development projects and host luxury exhibitions. AFP PHOTO/OMAR SALEM (Photo credit should read Omar Salem/AFP/Getty Images)

    AFP/Getty Images

    FOR USE WITH AFP STORY US-Switzerland-art, by Juan Castro Olivera.Swiss artist Olaf Breuning's sand sculpture at South Beach in Miami Florida, on December 16, 2008. The work was commissioned by the Sagamore Hotel to celebrate Art Basel Miami. ÃâItÃâs not sellable,Ãâ Breuning said of the tons of sand that have been shaped into a busty, abstract-faced sunbather. Collectors at Art Basel Miami Beach have refused to let a US recession stop them from snapping up competitive deals. The 2008 show, the sister event of Art Basel in Switzerland, does not release official figures, but curators here report sales have fallen -- in some cases dramatically -- compared with recent years. AFP PHOTO/EriCA BERENSTEIN (Photo credit should read Erica Berenstein/AFP/Getty Images)

    AFP/Getty Images

    FOR USE WITH AFP STORY US-Switzerland-art, by Juan Castro Olivera.Swiss artist Olaf Breuning's sand sculpture at South Beach in Miami Florida, on December 16, 2008. The work was commissioned by the Sagamore Hotel to celebrate Art Basel Miami. ÃâItÃâs not sellable,Ãâ Breuning said of the tons of sand that have been shaped into a busty, abstract-faced sunbather. Collectors at Art Basel Miami Beach have refused to let a US recession stop them from snapping up competitive deals. The 2008 show, the sister event of Art Basel in Switzerland, does not release official figures, but curators here report sales have fallen -- in some cases dramatically -- compared with recent years. AFP PHOTO/EriCA BERENSTEIN (Photo credit should read Erica Berenstein/AFP/Getty Images)

    AFP/Getty Images

    FOR USE WITH AFP STORY US-Switzerland-art, by Juan Castro Olivera.Swiss artist Olaf Breuning stands next to his sand sculpture at South Beach in Miami Florida, on December 16, 2008. The work was commissioned by the Sagamore Hotel to celebrate Art Basel Miami. ÃâItÃâs not sellable,Ãâ he said of the tons of sand that have been shaped into a busty, abstract-faced sunbather. Collectors at Art Basel Miami Beach have refused to let a US recession stop them from snapping up competitive deals. The 2008 show, the sister event of Art Basel in Switzerland, does not release official figures, but curators here report sales have fallen -- in some cases dramatically -- compared with recent years. AFP PHOTO/EriCA BERENSTEIN (Photo credit should read Erica Berenstein/AFP/Getty Images)

    AFP/Getty Images

    A man reads a newspaper whilst smoking a cigarette outside an office building in London, Friday Dec. 12, 2008. World stock markets plunged Friday as the U.S. Senate's rejection of a $14 billion deal to rescue Detroit's ailing automakers stoked concerns that the recession in the world's largest economy will be even longer and deeper than projected. The FTSE 100 of leading British shares was down 127.87 points, or 2.9 percent, at 4,260.82. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)

    AP

    Pedestrians pass an electronic display sign showing the British FTSE 100 in London, Friday, Dec. 12, 2008. World stock markets plunged Friday as the U.S. Senate's rejection of a $14 billion deal to rescue Detroit's ailing automakers stoked concerns that the recession in the world's largest economy will be even longer and deeper than projected. The FTSE 100 of leading British shares was down 127.87 points, or 2.9 percent, at 4,260.82.(AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth)

    AP

    A man shops at a supermarket in Seoul December 12, 2008. South Korean economic growth in 2009 may fall to its slowest level in 11 years as a global recession hits the country's exports and domestic consumption will also suffer due to sluggish job growth. REUTERS/Jo Yong-Hak (SOUTH KOREA)

    Reuters

    A man shops at a supermarket in Seoul December 12, 2008. South Korean economic growth in 2009 may fall to its slowest level in 11 years as a global recession hits the country's exports and domestic consumption will also suffer due to sluggish job growth. REUTERS/Jo Yong-Hak (SOUTH KOREA)

    Reuters

    Laptop computers are displayed for sale at a supermarket in Seoul December 12, 2008. South Korean economic growth in 2009 may fall to its slowest level in 11 years as a global recession hits the country's exports and domestic consumption will also suffer due to sluggish job growth. REUTERS/Jo Yong-Hak (SOUTH KOREA)

    Reuters


As the New York Times reported recently, North Dakota is calmly bucking the national recession with problems other states would love to have: finding workers to fill 13,000 unfilled jobs, and a $1.2 billion state budget surplus. But, the story reports, the state isn't without its problems as census figures show that more people have moved away than have moved there, leaving more jobs to fill than people to fill them.

And there are perceptions that are difficult to get rid of, besides the harsh winters. As Katie Hasbargen,a spokeswoman for Microsoft's Fargo campus, the 1996 Coen brothers' film that bears the city's name, "The movie didn't do us a lot of favors."

Many of the new jobs are in the oil industry, as North Dakota is finding more money under the ground than was ever buried in the movie "Fargo."

Aaron Crowe is an unemployed journalist in the San Francisco Bay Area. Read about his job hunt at www.talesofanunemployeddad.blogspot.com


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