Prices Help Drive Increase of Midwest Oil Exploration

By Scott Cohn

What a difference a few years make.

When we launched America’s Top States for Business in 2007—before the housing market implosion and the financial crisis—our Top States were attracting not only businesses but people: families and home buyers.

Four of our Top Five that year were Southern states: Virginia followed by Texas, Utah, Georgia and North Carolina.

(WatchCan Texas Stay on Top?)

But while we and everyone else were looking south, oil production in North Dakota’s Bakken Shale tripled in 2007. Crude oil was trading at a mere $60 a barrel, though, so not many people noticed. The state finished a mere 13th.

By last year, however, Brent Crude oil was averaging around $111 a barrel, and North Dakota made its first appearance in our Top Five. The move was largely a result of the state’s dizzying economic growth—”bigger than China’s growth rate,” Steven Landefeld, director of the federal Bureau of Economic Analysis, told CNBC in an interview. “It’s been oil and gas [in North Dakota].”

Virginia, by contrast, slipped to No. 3 last year—its worst showing ever. And Georgia slipped all the way to ninth place.

Our rankings reflect what experts say has been a gradual change in recent years, with the core of economic expansion moving to the middle of the country.

You can read the rest of this story on CNBC’s website.

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