This is not a rant about healthcare legislation, or a lack thereof. It is not even about the ill-conceived sequencing of healthcare legislation and tax reform. My take is that tax reform was more important, would give a chance to generate some bipartisan efforts that could be exploited going forward. I will admit I did not anticipate a leadership crafting bills in secrecy from even their own rank and file.
Many people ask me about the challenges for the North Dakota economy moving forward. This is much more difficult to do than it may seem; there are no easy answers here. There are many reasons for this. What seems to be an problem now may resolve itself of its own accord in the near future. It could also be the case new problems arise as a result of federal policy or technological innovations. As Yogi Berra said, “Predicting things is hard. Especially about the future.”
At the Cubs game last week they informed the crowd that Kris Bryant was only the 15th MLB player to win Rookie of the Year, MVP, and play on a World Series winner. I figured out the others. Feel free to comment with answers!
Yesterday on the radio JT asked about updated numbers from the 2015 post I made earlier this week. Here are the numbers for 2016 annual private wage averages by county from a different source (the Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages).
As part of a deeper look at many factors related to North Dakota economic development, growth, and, for lack of a better term, “transition” I am looking at a broad set of data (even broader than normal). Think of it as a jigsaw puzzle where you do not know the number of pieces ahead of time and do not know the end picture you need to assemble. That is kind of where I am right now. That said, I thought I could share a recent picture I made.
For those that question the impact of the oil boom, I offer up this post on birth rates. Now the answers are not quite as obvious as you might expect. It is probably important that you recall my earlier post about the net migration by county for North Dakota (found here). The beginning year for our look at birth rates is 2011 where we see the leaders in birth rates are counties with sizable Native American populations. There is, as yet, no boom in the Bakken area, and there is a remarkable degree of consistency as far as rates across the state.
Paul Ryan is pressing hard for tax changes to be permanent rather than temporary (see a representative article here). From a traditional economic perspective he is probably right to do so if he wants policy to have maximum impact on the economy, regardless of your preferred performance metric. There exists no shortage of empirical research on this topic and I include a link here to a research note that seems typical (and more importantly is not paywalled).
The latest numbers from the state OMB showed some interesting information regarding taxes, again. Rather than focus on sales tax this time I thought we could branch out into income taxes. Why? Sales tax revenues get the bulk of attention in the media and from me generally and I think branching out is important. Another reason is as the impacts and effects of the oil decline transmit into other sectors more fully, and the state budget cutting starts to fully take effect, we will see other revenues exhibit declines. My interest in the overall forecasting process, if we can call it that, also means we need to branch out into other revenue areas to understand the complete picture of the revenue process. The individual income tax revenue was also almost $20 million short of the forecast in May. With that in mind here is the picture for actual versus forecast individual income tax revenues in North Dakota:
The conversations on the radio lately deal with a very particular issue with ramifications for Grand Forks and North Dakota in general. Last week the question asked was, “Are we out of money in North Dakota?” By itself I cannot do much with that question, so I choose to rephrase it. I think it better to ask, “Are we hitting up against constraints in North Dakota?”