Employment and COVID Recovery in ND

One of the questions I often receive is about economic recovery after COVID. This exercise is rife with measurement issues but for ND I come up with the following approach. For a variety of reasons that I will outline in future posts and in my research papers I use employment as my preferred economic measure. I forecast employment for ND starting in March of 2020, the onset of the COVID pandemic. I forecast out for 36 months and then compare to the actual values for employment from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The magnitude of the pandemic impact is clear. There is a significant drop, and the forecast, of course, shows no signs of such a shock as we saw. For ND though, and I have undertaken this process for all 50 states, we see a return to forecast values by January 2022. Essentially recovery to forecast happened in just under 2 years.

Is this a good outcome? That moves us into the realm of the political and is highly subjective. Certainly a recovery is a notable achievement, but it was a fairly flat forecast as it was. Therefore it did not represent a significant amount of growth in employment, a huge issue in a labor constrained state like North Dakota.

As alluded to, this is part of a larger research project and so there will be more to come here in the future. This just happens to be one of the more frequently asked questions I get in my various interactions with the public and students.

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