Those that read this blog regularly or listen to my appearances on the Jarrod Thomas Show know that I do not find unemployment to be a very informative metric for North Dakota. A primary reason for this is that North Dakota is clearly a labor constrained state. Countless pieces of data over many years makes this abundantly clear. The supposed lack of labor market adjustment to this persistent outcome is a whole different story for another day.
The latest data for unemployment continue to make the case that this number is not a helpful policy tool. Take the last two months of observations.
These maps look almost identical. There are only minor differences really. If we wanted to gather some meaning out of these representations we could look at the monthly change in the unemployment rate from June to July.
There is more variation here and a few surprises, such as counties with highest unemployment actually saw some of the larger declines. If we look at the scale for the color gradations we notice the range is still quite small. That is, North Dakota likely exhibits some stability with the unemployment rate. This further weakens the claim that the unemployment rate is a useful policy metric.
North Dakota can rightly brag about low unemployment when making comparisons around the country. However, the lack of workforce influx over the years, a persistent perception of a worker shortage, and a seeming lack of wage response to this situation are factors the state would not want to celebrate. Like most sets of economic data, there are few unambiguous positives or negatives, and it is more of a mixed bag.