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[Authorized: NDCC Chapter 52-02]

The need for management of human and labor resources in North Dakota was often demonstrated by seasonal farm labor shortages throughout the state during the early years of the twentieth century. In response to farmers' needs for seasonal help for harvest and seeding, the State Legislature established a State Free Employment Service in 1921 (S. L. 1921, Ch. 117). Under the Commissioner of Agriculture and Labor, the State Free Employment Service served as a clearinghouse for laborers seeking work on farms during harvest and seeding time. The State Free Employment Service maintained agents in Bismarck, Grand Forks, Devils Lake, Minot, and Oakes to coordinate and direct the available labor to farmers needing seasonal help. Ten thousand dollars was appropriated in 1923 to support the activities of the State Free Employment Service. The agency was discontinued in subsequent years due to lack of appropriations. Massive unemployment in the 1930s prompted the State Legislature to create the North Dakota State Employment Service within the Labor Division of the Department of Agriculture and Labor in 1935 (S. L. 1935, Ch. 161).

The North Dakota State Employment Service was authorized in response to passage of the Wagner-Peyser Act by Congress in 1933. The purpose of the Wagner-Peyser Act was to "provide for the establishment of a national employment system and for cooperation with the states in the promotion of such systems..." Working in cooperation with the National Reemployment Service and the Veterans' Placement Service, the North Dakota State Employment Service opened a district and branch office in Fargo and Wahpeton serving Cass, Barnes, Richland, Ransom, and Sargent counties. The North Dakota State Employment Service functioned essentially as a job placement center, placing unemployed workers in farm, relief, retail, and other work areas. The North Dakota State Employment Service was transferred to the Workmen's Compensation Bureau in 1937 (S. L. 1937, Ch. 232). The same legislation also authorized creation of the Unemployment Compensation Fund within the Workmen's Compensation Bureau. The Unemployment Compensation Fund was supported through employee contributions to provide benefits for the unemployed. By 1940, the North Dakota State Employment Service had expanded to eight district offices and provided additional services to North Dakotans, including youth counseling, training and placement programs, stenographic testing, and veterans' and teachers' placement.

The Employment Security Bureau was established in 1965 (S. L. 1965, Ch. 333) and consisted of two divisions: the North Dakota State Employment Service and the North Dakota Unemployment Compensation Division. The Employment Security Bureau was headed by an executive director appointed by the Governor. The unemployment compensation division also administered the Old Age and Survivors Insurance system. Job Service North Dakota was created from the Employment Security Bureau in 1979 (S. L. 1979, Ch. 522) and incorporated all of the functions of the previous agency, including administration of the North Dakota unemployment compensation law and the state employment service. Job Service North Dakota is headed by an executive director appointed by the Governor. Services provided by the agency included job placement, employment counseling, occupational testing, special programs for veterans, the handicapped, older workers, youth, minorities, the economically disadvantaged, and migrant and seasonal workers, collection of tax contributions from employers as required by the unemployment compensation law, and payment of weekly job insurance benefits to qualified unemployed workers. To assist in management and formulation of policy governing the North Dakota Unemployment Compensation Law, the State Legislature authorized creation of a State Advisory Council and local or regional advisory councils in 1937 (S. L. 1937, Ch. 232). The councils were appointed by the Workmen's Compensation Bureau. The authority to appoint the councils was transferred from the Workmen's Compensation Bureau to the Employment Security Bureau in 1971 (S. L. 1971, Ch. 477) and in 1979 to Job Service North Dakota [NDCC 52-02-07].

Job Service North Dakota has its roots in the Social Security Act of 1935, when Congress established unemployment insurance as part of an employment security system designed to provide an economic safety net during the height of the Depression. It continues in the twenty-first century to be a federally funded state-administered agency acting as the state employment service. As part of the national network of public employment agencies, Job Service North Dakota provides free employment-related service to employers and jobseekers. The agency also administers national and state unemployment compensation laws. Because of the many job offerings from North Dakota employers, Job Service North Dakota recruits and screens potential employees, locally, statewide, and nationally.       

Job Service North Dakota administers the Job Training Partnership Act as well as most other employment and training programs in the state. These federally funded job training efforts provide opportunity for job skill development to people who are not job ready and those who face barriers in becoming fully employed. With jurisdiction over the state's job insurance program, the agency determines at which rate level a business is liable for unemployment taxes, collects those taxes, determines individual eligibility for unemployment benefits, and makes appropriate payments. The program provides economic protection to workers who lose jobs through no fault of their own and helps to stabilize the economy during economic downturn. As the state's primary source for labor market information, Job Service North Dakota finds its data is used by both the private sector and the public sector. In monitoring changes in the general labor market and the state's economy, the agency conducts ongoing research providing information to policymakers, businesses, developers, educators, jobseekers, and planners. Job Service North Dakota also administers the Old-Age and Survivor Insurance System and the Social Security Contribution Fund [NDCC 52-09]. The Old-Age and Survivor Insurance System (OASIS) is responsible for obtaining wage reports, collecting employer contributions, and making payment of monthly Old-Age and Survivor Insurance System retirement benefits. The primary objective of the OASIS office is to provide employees of state and local government and their dependents and survivors basic retirement protection under federal Social Security and Old-Age and Survivor Insurance System.


1921       The creation of State Free Employment Service of North Dakota was established with the Commissioner of Agriculture and Labor as executive officer.  The Service was in place until 1923 (S. L. 1921, Ch. 117).

1935       The creation of the North Dakota State Employment Service was placed within the labor division of the Department of Agriculture and Labor. A labor deputy was appointed and the Department of Agriculture and Labor was designated the agency for promotion of a national employment system.  Working in cooperation with the Federal Government under the provisions of the Wagner-Peyeser Act, officers and employees of the North Dakota State Employment Service were appointed (S. L. 1935, Ch. 161).

1937       The North Dakota State Employment Service was transferred to Workmen’s Compensation Bureau and the creation of the unemployment compensation division was within the Workmen’s Compensation Bureau.  The State Advisory Council was also created to advise the Bureau on policy formulation and discuss problems related to this act (S. L. 1937, Ch. 232).

1945       Legislation created an unemployment division within the State Employment Service with a full-time director. The division was considered separate from the rest of the Workmen’s Compensation Bureau (S. L. 1945, Ch. 284).

1947       Legislation amended a section of the Century Code [NDCC 52-02-09] relating to the unemployment compensation administration fund, maintenance, purpose, and its formation (S. L. 1947, Ch. 321).

1949       Legislation related to regulating the unemployment compensation division and the state employment service as divisions of the Workmen’s Compensation Bureau (S. L. 1949, Ch. 303).

1953       An act to create a section of the Century Code concerning real property acquired with federal funds under “rental purchase agreements” without appropriation by the state for use of the unemployment compensation division/state employment service division (S. L. 1953, Ch. 294).

1955       The director served on North Dakota Indian Affairs Commission. 

1957       Legislation amended the Century Code regarding the special fund called Unemployment Compensation Administration Fund (S. L. 1957, Ch. 327).

1961       Prescribed duties and powers relate to the selection of the director and employees of te State Employment Service (S. L. 1961, Ch. 311).

1963 Legislation concerned details of a State Departmental Report of Recommendations by the Director to be submitted to the Governor and Secretary of State (S. L. 1963, Ch. 346).

1965       The North Dakota State Employment Service and the Unemployment Compensation Division were removed from the Workmen’s Compensation Bureau and merged with the Employment Security Bureau  and were subject to direction by the Governor. Each division had its own director and a separate administrative body. The Unemployment Compensation Bureau was charged with administering the Old Age and Survivors Insurance System and the State Employment Service was to maintain free public employment offices as necessary (S. L. 1965, Ch. 333).

1971       The Workmen’s Compensation Bureau was replaced by the Employment Security Bureau and the composition of the State and Local Advisory Councils appointed by the Employment Security Bureau was established (S. L. 1971, Ch. 477). Legislation concerned an amendment to the Century Code concerning title to real property acquired with federal funds (S. L. 1971, Ch. 476). The director has served as a member of the Administrative Committee on Veterans' Affairs (1971).

1973       Biennial reports were sent to the Governor and Secretary of State (S. L. 1973, Ch. 403).

1975       The Governor and Department of Accounts and Purchases were to receive the biennial report (S. L. 1975, Ch. 466).

1979       The name of the Employment Security Bureau was changed to Job Service North Dakota (S. L. 1979, Ch. 522). An Unemployment Compensation Administration Fund was established (S. L. 1979, Ch. 187). Legislation related to rates of contributions and primary insurance benefits under the old-age and survivor insurance system the (OASIS) assessments and benefits (S. L. 1979, Ch. 608).

1989       Legislation related to the appointment of state and local advisory councils by the Job Service North Dakota Bureau (S. L. 1989, Ch. 600).

1993       The Legislative Assembly enacted the North Dakota New Jobs Training Program (S. L. 1993, Ch. 62).

1997       Legislation concerned the unemployment compensation and federal advance interest repayment funds (S. L. 1997, Ch. 480) and the addition of a new section to the Century Code [NDCC 52-02] regarding an independent audit by the Office of the State Auditor (S. L. 1997, Ch. 46)

1998       The federal Workforce Investment Act was signed into law in 1998 to increase participant employment, retention, earnings, and skill levels with the ultimate goal of improving the quality of the workforce, reducing welfare dependency, and enhancing productivity and competitiveness.

1999       Legislation was amended concerning the auditing of Job Service North Dakota, and the unemployment compensation programs (S. L. 1999, Ch. 433).

2001       Legislation concerned the Job Service Trust Fund and requirement of the Bureau to report to Legislative Council on the fund (S. L. 2001, Ch. 451).

2003       The Century Code was amended concerning adult education and training grants to eligible students under the Job Training Partnership Act.

2005       Legislation established an Unemployment Insurance Advisory Council with the composition of the membership and duties of the Council (S. L. 2005, Ch. 454). A national program called PRIDE (Parental Responsibility Initiative for Development of Employees) was implemented in the state in 2005 and is administrated by of Job Service North Dakota.               

30317 Manpower Indicators.
30318 Budget Files.        
31540 Administrative Division. Executive Office Files.
31541 Administrative Division. Regional Office Files.
31592 Administrative Division. Special Project Files.
31593 Public Information Office. Public Opinion Surveys.
31597 Employment and Training Division. Interoffice Program Memoranda.
31598 Employment Training. WIN Plans.               
31599 Employment Training.  Service and activity plans.
31600 Research and Statistics. Handicapped File.
31601 Research and Statistics. Statistical Reports and Surveys.
31608 Administrative Division. Review Statistics.
31693 Oasis and Social Security. Audit Reports.
31694 Research and Statistics. Employment and Training. History File for Old Age Survivors Insurance Systems.
31718 Research and Statistics. Local Area Unemployment Statistics Worksheet.
31719 Research and Statistics. Employment Service Reports.
31720 Research and Statistics. Job Insurance Reports.
31721 Research and Statistics. Farm Labor Compliance Reports.
31722 Research and Statistics. Farm Labor Activity and Availability Reports.
31733 Employment and Training Division. Administrative Program Letters.
31780 Research and Statistics. Northern Border Pipeline Newsletters.
31781 Research and Statistics. ES-202 Comment Tables File.
31880 Placement Division. Improvement Program File.
31919 Support Services. Policy and Procedures Manuals.
31920 Labor Statistics/Labor Marketing Information Special Projects File.
31922 PSA/LMI Division. Plans and Service Employer Relations Placement File.
31927 Church Survey.
32349 Human Resources, Personnel Directories.


Gray, David P.  Guide to the North Dakota State Archives, 1985.
Job Service North Dakota Website.
Legislative History of North Dakota State Agencies: Richard J. Wolfert State Librarian. State Library.
North Dakota Century Code.
North Dakota Secretary of State Blue Book.
North Dakota State Legislature Session Laws.

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