NEWS for North Dakotans
Agriculture Communication, North Dakota State University
7 Morrill Hall, Fargo, ND 58105-5665
April 30, 1998
Some New North Dakota Residents Not Happy In State
Evidently a number of people have been spurred by growing employment opportunities to move to North Dakota, and about two-thirds of the new arrivals say theyd make the move again if they had it to do over, according to a study by two agricultural economists at North Dakota State University.
Yet not all the new arrivals are happy: about a fifth say they wouldnt or probably wouldnt come to North Dakota if they had the choice again.
And about an eighth of the new residents plan to move out of the state in the next year.
"Keeping new residents happy and satisfied in North Dakota could be essential to the states continued economic development," says Randy Sell, research scientist in agricultural economics at NDSU. "Thats why weve tried to learn peoples motivations for moving to North Dakota, their expectations once in the state, and whether those expectations are being satisfied. Knowing these things may be useful in creating ways to attract and retain new residents."
Dissatisfied recent arrivals give several prime reasons for their discontent:
n Sixty percent didnt like the weather.
n Nineteen percent said that jobs are scarce and wages low.
n Thirteen percent objected to
the attitudes and prejudices of people in their
"A significant percentage of those who say theyd never move here again tend to think the community where they live is unfriendly," says Sell. "Over 30 percent of them think their community is not trusting, and over 30 percent consider their community hostile and unsupportive."
While a significant number of the newcomers are not content in North Dakota, the great majority areand of these two-thirds of new residents who are glad to be in North Dakota, about half had previous connections with the state.
"About 40 percent had lived here previously," says Sell, "and another 10 percent or so said their parents or grandparents do live or once lived in the state."
This may suggest a strategy for attracting new people, says Sell.
"The fact that a lot of these folks seem to have previous ties seems a validation of the theory behind the Back Home project. That project assumed that when trying to bring people, ideas or capital into North Dakota, a good pool of people to recruit from would be those who already had ties with the state."
The study found that new arrivals living in urban areas were the most dissatisfied with North Dakota: about 22 percent living in urban areas said theyd never come again, while only about 12 percent of those in rural areas said theyd stay clear of North Dakota.
This might be explained in part, says Sell, by the fact that those moving to rural communities expected all the normal limitations of rural communities, and were less surprised than those who moved to metropolitan areas and did not find quite the services theyd hoped for.
"About 90 percent of the new residents said they feel quite welcome in their new communities," said Sell, "and the overwhelming majority of residents are satisfied with services such as fire protection, water and sewer, and also with the church and civic activities available to them."
At the same time, only about 60 percent said they are very or somewhat satisfied with the entertainment available, and with streets and highwayswhich means, of course, that 40 percent arent satisfied. About two-thirds said they are very or somewhat satisfied with retail shopping and public transportation. Which leaves about a third not satisfied.
A substantial number of new residents find certain services to be completely lacking, according to Sell. For instance, no public transportation is available to about an eighth of them. And no nursing home care, mental health care and Head Start programs are available to about 15 percent of those in rural areas.
Most of the new residents65 percentevidently came here mainly because of a job or business opportunity. Two-thirds are between 21 and 40 years old. Nearly half are college graduates, and another third report having attended some college or post-secondary vocational school or trade school.
About 61 percent of the new residents live in the four big urban centers, Fargo, Bismarck-Mandan, Grand Forks and Minot. About 16 percent live in or near one of the six regional trade centers in Williams, Ramsey, Stark, Stutsman, Barnes and Richland counties.
About a quarter of the new residents came from Minnesota, another 18 percent from the other adjacent states or province, and the rest58 percentfrom a wide range of states and geographic regions.
To obtain a copy of the study by Sell and Larry Leistritz, call the NDSU department of agricultural economics at (701) 231-7441 and ask for Report 387, "In-Migrants to North Dakota: A Socioeconomic Profile."
Source: Randy Sell (701) 231-7357
Editor: Barry Brissman (701) 231-7866