North Dakota has the highest worker death rate in the country, a new report from AFL-CIO has found.
The research found that North Dakota had a death rate of 12.4 per 100,000 workers, nearly four times the nationwide rate of 3.5 per 100,000. In 2011 there were 44 workers killed, the report found.
The higher death rate is related to the oil boom that has taken over the western part of the state, AFL-CIO officials noted.
“The oil boom has come with a hefty price tag of a steep increase in deaths on the job,” the labor union said in a statement.
Of all workers killed since 2010, half have been in the oil and gas industry, the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration Found. It is seen as a trade-off, as the oil boom has brought great wealth to the state but has brought hazards in the occupation, Governor Jack Dalrymple told The Dickinson Press.
The rate is also higher due to the relatively small population of North Dakota, Dalrymple said. North Dakota’s population is close to 700,000. While other small states like Connecticut are heavy with office workers, North Dakota has a more dangerous workforce and thus a higher death rate, he added.
“I think it is mostly a function of the industries that your state (has) and the number of people in your state,” Dalrymple said.
The North Dakota oil boom has had good effects as well, especially in the western part of the state. It has pushed the average income in Mountrail County to double in the last five years. The average person there now makes $52,027 per year, ranking it in the richest 100 counties in the nation along with New York City and Marin, California.
Bruce Gjovig, founder for the Center for Innovation at the University of North Dakota, said there are close to 2,000 new millionaires a year in the state thanks to the oil boom. Much of that comes from oil royalties that require no work: Many residents in oil regions receive up to $60,000 a month, some more than $100,000.
As North Dakota registers the highest death rate, the state also passed Alaska as the biggest oil producer in the nation.