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North Dakota economy shrinks almost 6 percent during 2014 to 2015

FARGO--North Dakota's economy shrank in 2015 by almost 6 percent, ending a decade of mostly robust growth that saw the state's output of goods and services more than double.

2015-09-18T113401Z_3_LYNXNPEB8G01G_RTROPTP_3_NORTH-DAKOTA-RESERVATION.JPG
A service truck drives past an oil well on the Fort Berthold Indian Reservation in North Dakota, November 1, 2014. (REUTERS/Andrew Cullen)

FARGO-North Dakota's economy shrank in 2015 by almost 6 percent, ending a decade of mostly robust growth that saw the state's output of goods and services more than double.

North Dakota's gross domestic product last year dropped to $54.8 billion, down from $58.2 billion in 2014, or a decline of 5.8 percent, according to the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis.

Both agriculture and petroleum, the two main drivers of North Dakota's wealth, saw significant declines last year.

Mining, dominated by oil and gas extraction, plunged 34.2 percent from 2014 to 2015. During the same period, agriculture declined 11.6 percent.

Bright spots in the economy included health care, which grew 6.7 percent, educational services, which rose 6.6 percent, and utilities, up 6.5 percent, according to BEA figures.

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The decline in agriculture last year actually was less severe than in the two previous years. The ag sector shrank 16.6 percent from 2013 to 2014 and plummeted 24.4 percent from 2012 to 2013. The declines in the farming sector followed a series of years with mostly healthy growth, including an increase of 47 percent in 2011 to 2012, when crop prices were much higher.

The 34.2 percent decrease in mining marked the first decrease in the sector that includes petroleum since 2008 to 2009, during the Great Recession, when it fell 6.8 percent.

The state's struggling economy in the face of slumping farming and energy prices has been a leading issue in the hotly contested North Dakota GOP gubernatorial primary, which voters will decide today.

Related Topics: NORTH DAKOTA
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