G.L.Piggy [at] gmail.com
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There is a lot of whiny privilege hidden in this Business Insider article. Mandi Woodruff asks, why, if the North Dakota economy is doing so well, is she living in New York City with its high rent and high salad prices?
The job market. No one can simply look at employment rates for a state and count on finding a job in their field. North Dakota’s economy may be booming, but that’s mostly due to its mining and shale industry. I didn’t go to journalism school to work on an oil rig. And according to Salary.com, the average reporter in Fargo, N.D. nets only a little more than $31,000 per year.
Going a bit deeper, why did she choose journalism? Woodruff may have written this article just for herself, but her career choice must be looked at as one data point within a trend line of young people opting for “prestigious” jobs. I’d include journalism, social media gurus, non-profit workers, etc. in this group. More people want cushy jobs that don’t require much sacrifice. And today, the biggest sacrifice is being away from culture – TV, twitter, music concerts. Proximity to The Scene is worth untold dollars. People also want to be mentally engaged in their work. That’s fine and good, but those jobs are in high demand but short supply. These seekers have been promised too much by their parents. The business model doesn’t exist for large numbers of them to thrive.
The social scene. Though the state has one of the highest ratios of 20-24 year olds to the rest of the population, its largest city, Fargo, has fewer than 200,000 residents. Although I do have a couple of friends there who claim they love it, let’s just say they visit me more than I visit them.
The diversity. Having grown up outside of Atlanta, Ga., I’m attracted to a multi-cultural environment. More than a third of New York’s population are immigrants and my neighborhood in Queens is a melting pot of people from just about every country I could point out on a map. On the other hand, North Dakota’s residents are 90 percent white and fewer than 3 percent are foreign-born, according the U.S. Census.
The vibe. There’s a reason AARP Magazine sent a reporter in person to check out all the cities on its list of the top 10 places to retire this year. No matter how stellar a state’s economic report card may be, the personal connection people feel to a place is what truly matters. I’m a city girl and though I’m always up for traveling off the beaten path, I don’t thrive for very long outside of the concrete jungle.