D.A. Barber finds that the booming wealth of the Bakken oil fields isn't trickling down to Native American North Dakotans. He also notes that South Dakota is part of a seemingly inverse relationship between good economic stats for us white folks and poverty for our Indian neighbors:
While the national average poverty rate for Indians is 27 percent, South Dakota had the highest poverty rate at 48.3 percent, followed by North Dakota at 41.6 percent. Other states with exceedingly high Indian poverty rates include Minnesota (38.4 percent), Nebraska (38.1 percent), Montana (36.3 percent), Arizona (35.1 percent), and Utah (31.7 percent).
What's interesting is that some of those states with the highest Indian poverty rates also had an equally wide schism in terms of the lowest recent unemployment numbers. While the current national unemployment rate is 7.6 percent, the lowest unemployment rates by state include mostly energy boom states. North Dakota ranked lowest at 3.3 percent, followed by No. 2 Nebraska at 3.8 percent, No. 4 South Dakota (4.3 percent); and No. 5 Utah and Wyoming (4.9 percent). In fact, within the Bakken boom counties, unemployment drops to 1.7 percent.
...The Bureau of Indian Affairs Labor Force Report estimates the real unemployment rate on North Dakota's reservations can be as high as 55 percent, while reaching 83 percent on South Dakota's reservations [D.A. Barber, "The Energy Boom: American Indians Need Not Apply?" Huffington Post, 2013.04.30].
So why doesn't the rising employment tide raise Indian boats in South Dakota? Even if Big Oil can't find lots of engineers on the Dakota reservations (I apologize, Lakota neighbors, if I underestimate the number of underutilized engineering degrees you have), aren't Bakken and Keystone XL supposed to generate all sorts of economic activity across sectors that benefit every available worker?