One of the more frequent topics on the radio is about wages in the different metro areas in North Dakota. One of the first aspects to tackle is what exactly is the history of wages with the three metro areas (Bismarck, Fargo, and Grand Forks). Well I am glad you asked. Here is the picture since 2001.
Bismarck and Fargo are very close and trade lead position over time. Consistently the metro area of Grand Forks is the lowest annual pay level. The growth rate for all three metro areas over the 18 year time frame was over 3%, which is clearly excellent growth. To reframe the situation for Grand Forks I put the wage level for Grand Forks as a percentage of the three metro area average pay.
Grand Forks is consistently more than 5% below the average. This is a very big deal for policy. When people ask about the reasons it is difficult to keep people in town a six percent deficit in pay is a potential problem.
This is an average across all industries. What remains is to look below the surface into the very specific industry sectors across these metropolitan areas. Wage issues are still a big deal and this top level analysis of the situation should at least demonstrate the problem is real and requires a solution.