Burgum addresses North Dakota at State of the State conference in Dickinson

Courtesy: North Dakota Office of the Governor
Courtesy: North Dakota Office of the Governor

(Dickinson, ND) -- "Today, the State of our State is underestimated. Yet, we have never been stronger."

That is the thesis behind the 2024 State of the State address in Dickinson today, which touched a wide variety of topics. Those include workforce shortages, "telling the story" of North Dakota, assisting with mental health and addiction needs, education.

Burgum said the biggest challenge the state continues to face in 2024 is workforce. Specifically, a shortage of working age people in North Dakota. Related to workforce issues, Burgum tied the topic to both childcare and housing, which he also highlighted during the State of the State Address. He also said the investment in career and technical education centers has been critical in growing a skilled workforce of North Dakotans. 

The Governor says North Dakota has grown in population, from 672,000 in 2010 to 783,000 in 2023. However, there are still an estimated 14,000 official openings through Job Service North Dakota. Burgum says the data likely shows half of the official numbers, and says those people still need to fill an estimated 8,000 businesses registering to operate in the state in 2023. 

Burgum also said the state needs to do more when it comes to telling the story of North Dakota. He said this is the case when it comes to feeding the world through farming, producing energy via coal, oil, and natural gas, their stunning landscapes, and a business friendly climate. Additionally, Burgum says other aspects that should be celebrated include the following data points.

  • 4th youngest state.
  • 3rd happiest workforce.
  • 2nd in labor participation. Tied with Maryland with the lowest unemployment rate in the country.
  • 2nd best state to raise a family.
  • 2nd best state infrastructure.
  • 2nd in education and childcare.
  • Best state for business friendliness
  • Best state to start a business by Forbes.

Burgum cited the need for additional mental health and addiction providers and employees across the state, especially in rural areas. Some items they are doing in-house include displaying the Suicide and Crisis Lifeline 9-8-8 on all government pages. Burgum also said to expect legislation to help address workforce issues related to providers. He says providers help ensure people can stay in their jobs, find addiction services, and keep people from going behind bars. 

When it comes to education, he cited a need to speed up degree completion, provide more support to colleges besides constructing and reconstructing buildings on college campuses, and doing more to fill open teaching positions. Burgum wants to make North Dakota have the most financially literate students in the country, and are expected to share more in April. 

When it comes to housing, Burgum said the state needs 9,000 additional housing units to be prepared for the end of 2025. At this time, Burgum says they already have a blueprint to complete this plan, but are looking into additional ways renters, homeowners, and others to find living spaces in the state. He says this can be done through methods that improve affordability, availability, and safety.