Of late my discussions on the Jarrod Thomas show centered on the issue of ranking the performance of Grand Forks. Ranking against whom is an open question that is still not even close to resolved. By default the early comparisons are against other places in the state, though for reasons we discussed on the radio and I mentioned in other posts, that does not feel like a perfect comparison.
Still it seems like the statewide comparison is what we have for now. With that in mind I looked at the average weekly wage for each county in North Dakota and compared it to the state average. I took the deviation as a percentage of the average weekly wage for the state, so you get a sense of how far away a county is from the state average. The grayed out county has no data available.
What is really interesting in the picture is the western North Dakota hot spot persisting into the 2018 data. Some two-thirds of the state is below the average including major metro areas like Fargo and Bismarck. And of course, Grand Forks is in that range too. This was also the case in Q2 2018.
So there is the distribution for the state as a whole. While other data clearly support Grand Forks being a low wage county, the clustering here makes it clear that we are in the same boat as a few other counties like Cass and Burleigh. While I hoped that this would make the wage situation clearer I think it actually adds to the questions rather than resolving them.
I think my next effort is to look at some wage growth measures balanced with employment variables at the same time.