After the boom comes the bust, or so we are told. One of the more interesting questions for North Dakota is the extent of the pain, if any, felt during the bust, and how it ends up distributed across the state. To help answer this question we need to continue analysis of the circumstances of growth in North Dakota during this century. Call it a Nearby Economic History. A better understanding of the process of economic growth in the state is 1) important in its own right (knowledge for its own sake is seldom bad), and 2) potentially useful information as the state discusses policies going forward.
With that in mind I offer up this graph. It is the combination of data from two series from the American Community Survey (DP03 and B08015). The data from both series are from the ACS 1-year estimates from 2006 to 2014. I looked at the aggregate number of vehicles used in commuting per 100 people in the labor force.
The dip and the take-off are interesting here, and certainly require further analysis than I can give here. They also likely require more, or at least different, data than I have right now too. I tried to standardize the number, somewhat. Every year the labor force varies, but is it really standardized? Probably not. The jobs added from 2006 on are likely very different from existing jobs because this was prime time for the expansion of oil work. Still, the gap is only about 2.5 vehicles per 100 in labor force over this time period. So even with different jobs, the amount of extra cars per worker is not that large. It would be nice to have earlier information to truly control for the addition of a vibrant, booming oil sector, but that is not in the cards for today. I’ll examine so other commuting data to determine if there are more prominent changes in work patterns in North Dakota during the expansion of the oil sector.