Why are North Dakotans so satisfied with their quality of life?

North Dakotans are more likely than residents of any other state to say that their state’s economic conditions are excellent or good, that the state’s economy is getting better, and that they have not lacked money for adequate housing in the last 12 months. In addition, more residents than anywhere else say it is a good time to find a quality job and that their state is a good place for people starting a new business.

To an outsider, the answer seems clear: the North Dakota oil boom has expanded wealth and opportunity to the point that there is a chicken in every pot. To leading officials in North Dakota, the story has its roots in prudent long-term planning statewide that Democrats and Republicans began in the early 1990s. North Dakota Gov. Jack Dalrymple says well before oil was discovered in the Parshall Oil Field in 2006, the state was on its way to economic prosperity. Dalrymple, who served as former Gov. John Hoeven’s lieutenant governor, credits his boss with taking these efforts to the next level.

“We needed to get our state economy going,” Dalrymple says. “We basically set about creating a state for more opportunities … energy, agriculture, technology, advanced manufacturing, tourism.”