The March 2018 release came out and did not provide a ton of good news. The new data represents events of January 2018 and therefore pushes us through the entire holiday season. The March 2018 data was down 4.79% from the March 2017. The first quarter of 2018 declined 6.02% from the first quarter of 2017. The city likes to report a rolling 12 month total. For those that do not know, this means they look at the total for the last twelve months and as a new month is added they drop the oldest month. The city suggests this is more accurate, though I am not clear what the term accuracy implies here. The rolling 12-month total generally crosses multiple fiscal years so it is not really reflective of a specific budget year which would be something like calendar year accumulations. The other issue is this measure is down 19 of the last 20 months.
The simple fact is that pensions are still in the news all the time. You might think they settled down after the Detroit pension debacle but do a quick Google News search on pensions and you will see that teacher pensions in multiple states are in the news, Park District employees in Chicago won a court case regarding pensions, and I tweeted a few days ago an article pointing out the problems with a multi-company pension that seemed to be teetering on the brink. This is not a rant against workers pensions though. Pensions are an important part of the negotiated compensation package between workers and employers.
Labor force participation is a frequent topic of conversation on the radio these days so it seemed appropriate to actually share the graphs that I often show JT when the topic comes up.
It has been a busy couple of weeks. I was in Washington, D.C. for a new class I will be teaching next year on the interactions of government and business. That took a great amount of time and energy I do not mind telling you. It will be lots of fun and a great learning experience going forward. Also, this week was the North Dakota Demographics conference. This was the third one and I helped plan all of them as well as presenting at them. This time I had a research poster, a presentation on Demographics & Taxes, and I was part of a panel discussion on cities in North Dakota.