So the BEA release (follow this link to the data) this week revealed a large decline in North Dakota GDP from 2014 to 2015. Not a real surprise. As a minor note, I prefer to use the quarterly data instead of the annual data, not because it tells a very different story, but there are some distinctions. That is what I will be using in this discussion. I am also looking at the real GDP data to control for inflation changes over this time.
The 2015Q4 real GDP was down from the start of the year, but was only back to the level at the start of 2014 and was still 50% higher than the level for 2010Q1. Once again you somewhat need to accept the declines if you want to take the increases. One of the things missed with the annual data is the relative improvement in ag sector GDP in the second half of the year. This holds true if we look at ag sector GDP in a year-over-year fashion or a percentage change from prior period fashion.
The mining decline occurred in every quarter of the year and represents the significant drag for the year. There were related declines in other sectors such as construction, transportation, manufacturing and other sectors too. Healthcare and healthcare related spending was up on the year and in most quarters.
The interesting thing comes from the data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. North Dakota lost employment during this time, but the unemployment rate stayed about the same at under 3%. Clearly North Dakota, or at least regions of the state, experienced a recession at this time. It is really difficult to talk about recession in the way you hear about it in the national media when you see minimal increases in unemployment and the overall rate stays low. That probably requires a whole different post to talk about these issues.