Newly minted millionaires: Oil makes more North Dakotans filthy rich


A new survey shows that money is gushing into North Dakota, pushing the state up the list that tracks the number of millionaires per capita.

Forum News Service reports North Dakota ranked 29th on the 2013 list compiled by Phoenix Marketing International. The rankings are based on investable wealth and information from the Federal Reserve, Census Bureau and a polling firm.

The report says that 4.59 percent of North Dakota households have investable wealth of more than a million bucks. With a new total of 13,494 millionaires, the state jumped 14 places on the list in the past year, the biggest hike seen in any state. In pre-boom 2007, North Dakota ranked 47th, and remained near the bottom of the millionaires list until last year. Although millionaires make up a small part of the population, there has been an overall rise in per capita income in North Dakota.

Minnesota ranked 14th on the list, up three spots in the past year. The report shows Minnesota has 118,401 residents, or 5.6 percent of total households, with at least a million in investable wealth.

In 2012, Reuters reported that the boom could create up to 2,000 millionaires a year in North Dakota, according to calculations from Bruce Gjovig, founder of the Center for Innovation at the University of North Dakota. The story noted that the average income in Mountrail County, the center of the oil boom, roughly doubled in five years, pushing it into the richest 100 U.S. counties.

In western North Dakota, monthly oil royalties from $20,000 to $100,000 are not unusual, said Paul Meyers, a financial consultant and president of Legacy Wealth Management in Fargo. The rise in the value of farmland is another a factor in North Dakota’s mushrooming wealth, Meyers said.

In October of 2012, Reuters carried a story headlined, "In North Dakota, hard to tell an oil millionaire from regular Joe."

The story said those searching for signs of affluence will not see the monster homes, showy jewelry or luxury sports cars sported by the deep-pocketed of California and New York. The story suggests the best way to tell who has come into money in North Dakota is to check out wheels. The boom has boosted pickup sales and the number of tricked-out trucks.

"They are a lot more elaborate, a lot more loaded up than what they used to be, even the accessories," said Gary Evans, co-owner of Prairie Motors in Stanley, North Dakota. "Everything from running boards to grill guards to chrome wheels."

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