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North Dakota luring job-seeking Minnesotans

BEMIDJI (AP) -- As unemployment climbs in Minnesota, a neighbor to the west is starting to look pretty good to people who are out of work.

Thanks in part to a booming oil business, North Dakota has the second-lowest unemployment rate in the county. It's about half of Minnesota's.

It's not easy to track just how many job-seekers are crossing the border, but North Dakota does keep track of visitors to a labor exchange Web site that posts job openings and allows visitors to put up their resumes.

Fewer than 1,200 Minnesotans registered on the site in 2007. Last year, that number jumped to more than 5,000 -- with an especially large increase in the fourth quarter.

Tim Estey of Bemidji lost his job as a truck driver last winter. He saw an ad for oil field jobs in western North Dakota last April, picked up the phone and had a job a week later. Now he's a mechanic making about $24 an hour.

Estey says he misses his family but he had to go where the money was.