By Sid Pranke
Who is making more money among public and private workers across North Dakota? According to the most recent data collected by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), almost everybody.
Average weekly wages across North Dakota for private and public workers went up in most counties for the 4th quarter in 2011. Only three North Dakota counties showed average lower wages from the 3rd to 4th quarters in 2011 – Mercer, Towner and Eddy counties (see chart for all county weekly wage statistics here).
Not surprisingly, counties with top wages in the 4th quarter are counties where oil production is taking place. The counties with top five highest weekly wages in the 4th quarter of 2011 include McKenzie with $1,557 a week (up from $1,234 a week in the 3rd quarter); Williams with $1,486 a week (up from $1,365 a week); Slope with $1,331 a week (up from $1,303 a week); Burke $1,244 a week (up most dramatically from $878 a week in the 3rd quarter); and Dunn with $1,221 (up from $1,122).
The county data collection is done as part of a federal/state cooperative program, said Tom McDonald, of BLS’s Office of Economic Analysis and Information in Chicago. “It’s the most comprehensive data set in the country,” he said. Wages for self-employed persons and members of the military are not included.
A look at the annual mean (average) wages specific to oil and gas jobs for May 2011 (the most recent statistics available) showed that derrick operators made an average of $53,930 a year (about $1,037 a week); rotary drill operators averaged $66,330 annually (about $1,275 a week); roustabouts averaged $40,340 annually (about $775 a week); and wellhead pumpers averaged $43,650 annually (about $839 a week).
New wage data for the 1st quarter 2012 is due out Sept. 27.