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N.D. can’t afford more jobs lost

By Staff | Nov 30, 2009

North Dakota is in a much better financial position than other states these days.

Consider this:

-The state’s coffers boast a $1 billion surplus.

-Further expansion of oil drilling is planned and the production of wind energy is rising.

-The state’s unemployment rate remains well below the national average.

-The state is one of a few that is giving residents a property and income tax break.

-Tourism continues to be a growing industry in the state.

-And there is growth, albeit small, in the state’s population.

Indeed, there are a lot of positives to look at right now, but we must be reminded that some sectors of the state’s economy are hurting, namely manufacturing.

Bobcat is closing its Bismarck plant, meaning the loss of hundreds of jobs; Aircraft maker Cirrus recently announced layoffs to 30-some jobs at its Grand Forks plant; Motor Coach Industries, the maker of buses, laid off more workers at its Pembina plant; and closer to home, the workforce at TBEI-Rugby has been declining for the past several months due to the sluggish economy.

Those are good paying jobs, bread-winning jobs that keep families in communities, and, in places like Rugby or Pembina, losing 10 or 20 quality jobs is quite difficult to overcome.

The state’s Department of Commerce officials must be well tuned with the challenges facing the manufacturing sector right now and communicate with those businesses, doing what it can to help them ride out this rough patch. And hopefully, prevent further layoffs or plant shutdowns.

The bottom line is making sure North Dakotans who are employed in this field remain employed.

We can’t afford a trend of more and more manufacturing jobs lost.

It’s a key part of our state’s economy and must remain so if the state wants to continue down this period of growth.

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