North Dakota Oil Boom Fuels Big Growth in Millionaires

Image: North Dakota Oil Boom Fuels Big Growth in Millionaires Williston, North Dakota Mayor E. Ward Koeser displays a jar containing Bakken crude oil.

Friday, 17 Jan 2014 10:14 AM

By Drew MacKenzie

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North Dakota's oil boom last year gave the state its biggest jump ever in residents claiming to be millionaires.

According to The Wall Street Journal, North Dakota soared up 14 spots in the annual rankings of millionaire households per capita based on analysis from Phoenix Marketing International, which examined figures from the Federal Reserve, Census Bureau, and income polling data from Nielsen Co.

In 2012, North Dakota was ranked 43rd in millionaire households, one spot behind Alabama. But in 2013, the state climbed to 29th, just in ahead of Florida. That's still a long way from the first, however, which has been Maryland for three consecutive years, according to the annual Phoenix report.

Although the booming oil extraction business in North Dakota, especially in the Bakken shale region, has fueled the prosperity, the Journal noted that people living in the state are not the type to flaunt their new-found wealth.

“The only way you know a Bakken millionaire is he’ll be driving a new truck and might have taken his wife on vacation,” said Kelvin Hullet, president of the Chamber of Commerce in Bismarck, the state capital.

"I’ve seen the occasional Bentley. But mostly, North Dakota is the type of place where someone can be very wealthy and you’d never know it.”

Hullet said the expanding energy industry has also contributed to growth in the state's healthcare and technology sectors as well, providing additional employment opportunities. Labor Department figures show that North Dakota has the lowest unemployment rate in the country.

According to New York-based Phoenix marketing, other states have also seen a rise in the number of millionaire residents. The figure grew by 53,000 last year nationwide to reach 6.1 million households claiming to be worth $1 million or more.

Excluding the value of homes, the figures compiled by Phoenix show that one in every 20 U.S. households has more than $1 million in capital investment value.

According to the Phoenix report, Maryland tops the list of states with the most millionaires for the third consecutive year with 7.7 percent of households. New Jersey follows closely on its heels, with Connecticut and Hawaii holding down the third and fourth positions, respectively. Those four states have led the ranking in different order since 2006.

Alaska, Massachusetts, Virginia, New Hampshire, Delaware, and California rounded out the Phoenix report's top ten list.

The study also revealed that the downturn in the economy may have affected Nevada's fortunes more than any other states when it comes to the wealthy taking a hit. The fell 20 spots to 39th place in the Phoenix analysis, while Arizona, Florida, Michigan, and Idaho all plunged by more than 10 positions. However, Maine jumped up 11 places to No. 25, while Louisiana climbed from No. 32 to No. 42, according to the Journal.

David Thompson, a managing director at Phoenix, told the Journal, "Maine and Louisiana are two states that have seen big turnarounds in their economies. In Nevada, the data suggests the state is still feeling the effects of the downturn."

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