Coal Country Offers Top Wages - KFYRTV.COM - Bismarck, ND - News, Weather, Sports

Coal Country Offers Top Wages

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It's no surprise high paying jobs can be found in oil country. In Williams County, the average annual wage is more than $78,000, but it isn't just in oil country where you'll find high paying jobs. Three counties in coal country are averaging high wages as well.

Oliver, Mercer, and McLean are among the top 12 for highest average wages in North Dakota. Basin Electric spokesman Daryl Hill says proper use of the massive amount of energy resources available in North Dakota creates jobs for those who are qualified.

"These three counties have traditionally been providing the highest paid wages, you know, across the state. And it's, I would say, one of the basis or bed rock for having a good economy here in North Dakota," says Hall.

"The jobs in coal country are some of the better paying jobs in the state and also the most stable. And I think that's the part of the lignite industry that we're very proud of. We are sort of the old faithful of the economic drivers of the state," says Steve Van Dyke of the Lignite Energy Council.

The United States Bureau of Labor and Statistics found that for June 2013 North Dakota has an unemployment rate of 3.1 percent, making it the lowest unemployment rate in the nation. North Dakota Job Service notes that energy production continues to have a major impact on the state's labor force and economy.    

"The top five industries of the state are agriculture,  and oil and gas are basically neck and neck. And then you have manufacturing and you have tourism and then at number five in the industry is the lignite industry. So, you know, those are really the top economic drivers in the state. Those are the industries, and of those, you know, the lignite industry is the one that kind hums along," says Van Dyke.

All 12 counties are averaging an increase of at least ten percent in wages. North Dakota's top 12 highest average wages list has Williams county first. Other counties near the top are Slope, Dunn and McKenzie.

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