WDAY: The News Leader

Published January 16, 2014, 10:44 AM

Income growth in Grand Forks among nation’s best

Grand Forks, ND - Personal income growth in the Grand Forks area was among the largest in the nation in 2012.

By: John Hageman, Forum News Service, Grand Forks Herald, Forum News Service

Grand Forks, ND - Personal income growth in the Grand Forks area was among the largest in the nation in 2012.

A November report from the Bureau of Economic Analysis at the U.S. Department of Commerce shows total personal income grew by 10.5 percent from 2011 to 2012 in the Grand Forks metropolitan statistical area. That’s good enough for third place among the country’s 381 MSAs.

The MSA with the biggest growth spurt was Midland, Texas, which saw personal income grow by 12.1 percent between 2011 and 2012. Nationally, that rate was 4.2 percent.

However, the Grand Forks MSA, which consists of Grand Forks and Polk counties, has lagged behind the national per capita personal income for decades, according to the BEA. In 2006, the personal income per capita here was about 82 percent of the national figure.

But per capita personal income has grown every year since then, and 2012 marked the first time since 1975 that per capita personal income in Grand Forks has reached the national figure, according to the BEA. Per capita personal income here was $43,916 in 2012, compared to the national average of $43,735.

Barry Wilfahrt, the president and CEO of the Chamber of Grand Forks and East Grand Forks, attributed the growth to a strong agricultural sector locally over the past five to seven years and the influence of the oil boom in western North Dakota.

“I think that shows that all of our efforts as a community to do everything we can to connect with our neighbors to the west have paid off,” he said.

Bismarck and Fargo, the state’s other two MSAs, also saw some of the highest personal income growth rates in the nation at 10.1 percent and 8.3 percent, respectively. In the nonmetropolitan region of North Dakota, total personal income grew by 26.3 percent.

There were only five MSAs in the country where personal income declined in 2012, although growth slowed slightly, the BEA said. Inflation slowed to 1.8 percent in 2012 compared to 2.4 percent in 2011.

Call Hageman at (701) 780-1244, (800) 477-6572 ext. 1244 or send email to