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Published May 14 2013

Forum editorial: Too few new ND state jobs?

North Dakota will add 144 full-time equivalent positions to state government’s workforce in the next few months. The 2013 Legislature approved the job growth. Gov. Jack Dalrymple’s budget proposal had called for more state employees in specific classifications to deal with rapidly rising demand for state services.

The only surprise in the jobs number is that it’s not larger. Anyone who’s been paying attention understands that state government is under extreme pressure to support basic services. It’s not only the demands from the Oil Patch that are driving the need; it’s also across-the-board strong growth of the state’s economy and increases in the state’s population.

Not every observer of the state likes the addition of state jobs. Know-nothing blogs and self-styled fringe watchdog organizations are falling all over themselves decrying the “growth of government.” In order to conform to their blinder-clad anti-government ideology, they blithely misrepresent and manipulate the jobs picture. They also dishonestly frame the growth in the state’s ongoing operating budget by including one-time expenditures for roads, education buildings and other infrastructure. Their purposefully skewed prattle should be dismissed.

It’s important to note that nearly all the additional jobs are narrowly targeted to legitimate needs, such as law enforcement, the judiciary, social services, energy compliance and labor claims. In that regard, the necessity for more state workers follows closely practices in the private sector where demand for employees is up because of the strong economy, east and west.

North Dakota’s economy is the largest and the fastest-growing in the state’s history. Government (even at the local level) needs to grow judiciously to keep up with escalating demands on the services government traditionally provides. The governor and lawmakers recognized that fact, and acted properly.

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Forum editorials represent the opinion of Forum management and the newspaper’s Editorial Board.