Certainly no one was surprised at the recent news that North Dakota once again boasts the fastest-growing economy in the nation. But we're not sure anyone expected the Bureau of Economic Analysis report to show that our state posted a 13.4 percent growth rate in 2012.
That dwarfs anything else going on in the country. The second-fastest growing economy belongs to Texas, which saw a growth rate of about one-third of North Dakota's rate. The national average for 2012 was 2.5 percent.
Obviously the ongoing oil industry boom is fueling North Dakota's continued growth, which has allowed the state to create the best economy in the nation for three years in a row. And with oil prices remaining high, there's no reason to expect North Dakota's economy to slow down any time soon.
The boom has brought workers from across the nation to western North Dakota, and it's also attracted other industries that supply goods and services to the oil industry. North Dakota cities are growing, after years of steadily losing population.
But the booming economy is not without its problems. The rapid influx of employees and their families has created housing shortages in many areas, causing rents and home prices to skyrocket. Many schools are bursting with new students. With increased truck traffic, roads in the state are taking a beating. Towns and cities are struggling to catch up with infrastructure demands that accompany a growing population.
The boom and its accompanying successes and challenges don't appear to be leaving the state any time soon. How North Dakota continues to responds will determine the state's immediate and longterm futures.