Improving Quality of Life

Quality of life can be improved through a strong economy that revitalizes communities, encourages business investment, and provides employment opportunities for a competitive workforce at all skill levels.

North Dakota has been enjoying a robust economy, characterized by a flourishing energy development sector, in addition to strong agriculture, real estate, and government sectors. Communities rely on the strength of their economies to generate financial resources to provide employment at all skill levels and services for their residents. Maintaining a high-quality standard of living in all aspects of life – from housing, to health, to education – is influenced by a strong economy. Likewise, the vitality of our economy hinges on the continued success of all aspects of life as well.

What's happening

  • The median household income in North Dakota in 2022 was $71,970, ranking North Dakota 25th among the 50 states.
  • In 2022, North Dakota’s poverty rate in was 11.5 percent, just below the national average of 12.6 percent. While the poverty rate represents a slight decline from 13.1 percent in 2010, North Dakota’s ranking worsened among states, dropping from 16th lowest to 21st in 2022.

Making connections

Investment in early childhood and later in education helps to ensure a skilled workforce enabling participation in our diverse economy. Providing access to high quality education will also expand economic opportunity for residents. Research suggests that individuals with higher levels of education are better able to compete for high quality jobs and more likely to obtain jobs with better working conditions, benefits, and opportunities for advancement.  Education is an investment in the future of the state, because workers with higher incomes contribute more through taxes over the course of their lifetimes. Higher incomes are also associated with better educational outcomes for children, improved health outcomes for all residents, in addition to many other advantages.
Educational attainment is also strongly related to U.S. unemployment rates. The more education a group has, the lower the unemployment rate. Those without a job, especially residents without assets or a second worker in the household, may experience hardships such as high debt, health consequences, hunger, foreclosure, and even homelessness.
Multiple studies have shown that people living in poverty also tend to have more hardships, such as poorer health, dying younger, and poorer economic, social, and physical conditions. Furthermore, poverty is associated with an increased risk of homelessness, crime, and illiteracy. Poverty rates are associated with the general condition of the economy. As the economy grows, so do opportunities for employment and income growth.


Joshua Marineau and Onnolee Nordstrom: Learning from Fargo: An Exploration of the Fargo-Moorhead Entrepreneurial Ecosystem.

“Today, rural areas are confronted with many challenges. For instance, many have watched their dominant industries such as agriculture, mining, and lumber decline and “brains drain”. Energizing entrepreneurship has become a primary strategy for countering these trends and an attractive economic development tool. This is because entrepreneurship creates wealth, not just wages. And the wealth created by entrepreneurs is reinvested in the community. This is more beneficial for revitalization than just job creation, which brings wages to rural communities but does not always keep this corporate wealth within the boundaries of the community.”

Deb Nelson: Vision West: Leading, Educating, and Collaborating to Mobilize the 19 Western North Dakota Counties Towards Resilience and Prosperity

"Vision West ND is all about helping communities and counties in the western energy impacted areas and bring about economic diversification and stabilization, not only now during the downturn in oil and agricultural industries, but well into the future."

great idea

Learn more about the North Dakota Community Action Partnership

North Dakota Compass

Center for Social Research
North Dakota State University

Compass created by:
Wilder Research

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