Meet the Tiny U.S. County Where the Recession Never Hit

Hint: They have the energy industry to thank

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While much of the country was reeling from economic whiplash as the economy tumbled into recession in 2008-9, one tiny county in the United States was sitting high and dry, and has been ever since.

Mountrail County, North Dakota, population 9,000.

“The housing downturn and the overall recession did not touch the economy of Mountrail County,” according to a new report out Tuesday from the National Association of Counties. Though many counties—generally smaller, more rural counties—were little affected by the economic downturn, according to the report, Mountrail’s “county economy is the only one in the country that experienced no signs of the recession.”

Located in northwestern North Dakota atop the oil and gas rich Bakken shale formation, Mountrail can thank the natural gas boom for its economic performance. Raw materials, primarily consisting of oil and gas, accounted for 20 percent of all jobs in the county in 2013, and 40 percent of the county’s economic output.

Even as home prices in North Dakota, the state least affected by the recession of any in the country, dipped slightly between 2007 to 2009, those in Mountrail increased in value by almost two percent.

According to the report, the recession was mild with almost no discernible economic impact in small county economies across the country. But only in Mountrail was the county completely void of any negative impact on all four metrics measured by the study: County GDP output, jobs, home prices, and unemployment rate.