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March 30, 2021


North Dakota’s Unemployment Rate 5.3% for February

BISMARCK, N.D. – Job Service North Dakota reported that labor statistics released today show North Dakota’s February not seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was 5.3 percent. The unemployment rate rose 0.3 of a percentage point between January and February. February 2020’s rate was 2.5 percentage points lower than the current rate.

Between January 2021 and February 2021 unemployment rose by 1,401, an increase of 7.0 percent. North Dakota typically sees a moderate decrease in unemployment numbers between January and February. The over-the-year change (February 2020 to February 2021) in the unemployed labor force was 9,929, a gain of 86.8 percent.

The national not seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for February was 6.6 percent. It was 6.8 percent the prior month and 3.8 percent the prior year.

North Dakota Not Seasonally Adjusted Labor Force Data


February 2021

January 2021

February 2020

Unemployment Rate












Labor Force





The nation’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was 6.2 percent for the month, lower than the prior month by 0.1 of a percentage point, and much higher than the same period one year ago. The seasonally adjusted rate for North Dakota was 4.7 percent, 0.2 of a percentage point higher than the prior month, and 2.4 percentage points higher than the same period one year ago. The seasonal adjustment process uses a statistical adjustment to accommodate predictable fluctuations between months such as length of daylight and typical weather, allowing for comparison between all months of a year.

In February, North Dakota ranked 17th among all states’ unemployment rates, at 4.7 percent. Florida tied with North Dakota. South Dakota came in 1st place, with an unemployment rate of 2.9 percent. 

Seasonally Adjusted Unemployment Rates


February 2021

January 2021

February 2020

North Dakota




United States





North Dakota’s Nonfarm Employment

Preliminary estimates indicate North Dakota’s February 2021 not seasonally adjusted employment declined 6.7 percent (-29,000) from the same period one year ago and increased 0.4 percent (+1,500) over the month.

Twelve of the 13 major industries reported year-over-year employment decreases, led by Mining and Logging posting a loss of 7,700 jobs (-37.6 percent). The second largest super sector industry decline took place in Leisure and Hospitality, with an annual job loss of 5,500 (-13.9 percent). The Food Services and Drinking Places subsector contributed the largest portion of this reduction, 2,800 jobs. Government posted the third largest reduction in employment, with a loss of 3,000 jobs (-3.6 percent). Retail Trade was the only industry that didn’t report a change in employment.


All three of North Dakota’s metro areas reported employment losses. Combined, employment fell by 10,600 jobs in the metro areas. Fargo posted the largest change in employment, with a loss of 5,900 jobs. Grand Forks and Bismarck trailed with employment losses of 3,400 and 1,300, respectively.


·         Mining, Logging and Construction (+700), and Transportation, Warehousing and Utilities (+400) posted employment gains. Manufacturing, and Financial Activities reported no annual fluctuations in employment. Principal employment reductions occurred in Leisure and Hospitality (-2,000), Government (-1,600), Educational and Health Services (-1,300), and Professional and Business Services (-1,100).


·         Retail Trade (+100) was the only major industry to report an increase in year-over-year employment. Metro area employment exhibited a decrease in all other industries. Leisure and Hospitality (-1,200), and Educational and Health Services (-400) posted the largest decreases in employment. Employment fell for the all other industries by 300 or less.


·         Government (+300), Mining, Logging and Construction (+200), and Financial Activities (+100) reported annual employment gains. Losses occurred in Leisure and Hospitality (-900), Professional and Business Services (-600), Educational and Health Services (-200), Information (-100), and Other Services (-100).



  1. The unemployment rate is the percentage of people actively seeking work compared to those in the labor force (employed plus unemployed).
  2. Data are subject to revision.
  3. The Job Service North Dakota Labor Market Information Center produced these statistics using the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ nationally-required standard methodology.
  4. Labor Force data for county and substate areas will be posted on 3-31-2021 to the Labor Market Information website: https://www.ndlmi.com.
  5. Nonfarm Employment (CES) is a monthly estimate of nonfarm employment. It is benchmarked to actual data annually.
  6. The Current Employment Statistics (CES) Survey, conducted by the BLS, is a monthly establishment survey of about 140,000 businesses and government agencies, which cover approximately 490,000 individual worksites. The main objective of the CES Survey is to estimate nonfarm employment, hours and earnings at place of work for the entire Nation, individual States, and metropolitan areas. The survey, is a stratified, simple random sample of worksites where the sample strata, or subpopulations, are defined by state, industry, and employment size, yielding a state-based design. The establishment survey, like other sample surveys, is subject to sampling and nonsampling error.
  7. The Local Area Unemployment Statistics (LAUS) program produces monthly employment and unemployment estimates for approximately 7,500 geographic areas, which include all States, labor market areas, counties, cities with a population of 25,000 or more, and all cities and towns in New England, regardless of population. LAUS estimates are designed to reflect the labor force concepts embodied in the Current Population Survey (CPS). The CPS is a monthly sample survey of households. The survey statistics on the labor force status of the civilian noninstitutional population 16 years of age and over. CPS data are collected each month from a probability sample of approximately 60,000 occupied households and yield estimates of demographic, social, and economic characteristics of the population.