There are many ways to calculate and present the average income for a population. I am trying out a new measure (for me) tonight with this post. I am doing some exploratory analysis with various different data sets and I thought I would look at some IRS data right now.
I decided to create the average salary and wages in adjusted gross income per filed return by county in North Dakota. So this is an average for those filing income tax returns with the federal government in 2015.
This is only one year but I think there is enough to say it is worth taking a further look. The hottest spot is obviously attributed to the Bakken oil boom. The interesting thing is the pattern that emerges. There are spill over effects into other counties, especially some of the adjoining ones. There are all types of anecdotes across the state about the nature of local business response to the oil boom, even when the county was far away from the locus of activity.
What does this say? Nothing new right now. It really confirms what we already knew, oil created a significant amount of wealth and opportunity in the state, though this lays out some the distribution of that a little more clearly. Of real interest to me here is that there does not appear to be a corridor-type effect. Highway 2 and I-94 run across the state but there are plenty of “cold” states between the hot areas and the larger communities in Grand Forks and Fargo. Were there locational disadvantages in some of these counties? Was it just a lack of available workforce? I think this warrants further investigation, especially if there are non-market causes for the drop off in wage and salary such as local regulation.