BISMARCK, N.D. – When oil prices began to crash this winter there was some panic in North Dakota. After all, while the state has been able to tout the nation’s strongest economy for the last several years, most of that economic growth was built on the back of the Bakken oil boom.
Some worried a bust was coming. “Hard times could be ahead for North Dakota’s oil boom towns,” read an ominous headline in the Minneapolis Star-Tribune in January amid cratering oil prices.
It wouldn’t be the first time. North Dakota oil booms in the 1950’s and 1980’s petered out when prices crashed, hurting the state’s economy.
While there’s no question that the boom era of the Bakken shale oil play is over, it turns out low oil prices have actually been pretty good for this oil rich state.
For one thing, sky-high rents which were the subject of numerous national headlines are starting to come back down. “In Watford City and Williston, rents tumbled 20 percent since the beginning of the year,” reported the Williston Herald recently, citing numbers for the two busiest oil patch communities.