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Abstract

As North Dakota has shifted from its traditional dependence on natural resource-based activities to a more diversified economy, changes in employment, population, income, and retail sales have occurred. This report summarizes changes in these and other economic indicators at the county and community level from 1980 to 2004. Employment increased 12 percent from 1990 to 2004, with 19 of the state's 53 counties registering job growth. The largest percentage (and absolute) gains were in Cass (Fargo) and Burleigh (Bismarck) counties. Population statewide decreased by less than 1 percent from 1990 to 2004, as substantial growth in the Fargo and Bismarck-Mandan metropolitan areas was offset by population decreases in most of the state's rural counties. Per capita income (adjusted for inflation) increased 32 percent statewide from 1990 to 2004. The 2004 value ($29,247) was about 89 percent of U.S. per capita income, compared to 79 percent in 1990. Retail sales also increased substantially from 1990 to 2004, and the state's four wholesale-retail trade centers accounted for a growing share of sales. Pull factors, which measure a community's retail sales compared to residents' purchasing power, were stable or increasing for the wholesale-retail centers and declining for smaller trade centers, on average.

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