Economic Impact

According to the NDSU Agricultural Economics Department, the lignite industry is the state's fifth largest industry behind agriculture, tourism and manufacturing. Oil/natural gas is ranked second.

  1. Agriculture
  2. Oil and gas
  3. Tourism
  4. Manufacturing
  5. Lignite
Source: R. Coon & L. Leistritz, Unpublished Data, Department of Agricultural Economics, NDSU, February 2013


NDSU Agricultural Economics Department 's economic impact study on the lignite industry


The economy of the western and central region of North Dakota, including Bismarck-Mandan, is highly dependent on the energy industry. 

The energy industry (coal mining, coal conversion, and petroleum and natural gas extraction, exploration and refining) accounted 31.9 percent of the state's economic base in 2012. 

The lignite industry directly employs 3,979 people in North Dakota. For every direct job provided by the lignite industry, another three jobs are needed to supply the industry with goods and services. Thus, there are 11,497 indirect employees. Total employment is 15,476.

Lignite industry expenditures are $1,087 million. Each dollar spent by the lignite industry circulates through the state's economy another three times. Thus, total business activity is more than $3.3 billion in North Dakota.


The lignite industry generates about (* million in state tax revenue annually.

Source: "North Dakota Lignite Energy Industry's Contribution to the State Economy for 2013 and Projected for 2014," June 2014, Randal C. Coon, Dean A. Bangs & Nancy Hodur, NDSU Agricultural Economics Publication AAE 14002