I field a significant number of questions about the pace of economic activity in North Dakota, specifically the oil patch, from individuals not in the state or even the region. The answer I usually want to provide is summed up here:
A little follow-up to the postings on employment, particularly for the one about Grand Forks (here). Talking with JT on the radio today, or maybe it was off-air, the difference between city and county came up. So let’s take a look at this:
What is the likely effect of oil price declines on the Grand Forks regional economy? This is a question I get quite often right now, and it is difficult to answer. While I investigate I thought we could look at the employment situation in Grand Forks county over the last several years. There are a couple of interesting things to consider. First, let’s consider the percent change, year-over-year, in Grand Forks county employment.
I thought I would update some of the employment numbers I posted before on the site. The Bureau of Labor Statistics released revised numbers for October and preliminary numbers for November. Based on these releases employment from October 2014 to November 2014 declined by 4,291. (Cue dramatic music.) Of course this is a great concern for many, and I do not fault them for that. Oil and gas extraction, and the closely related industries, were clear growth leaders for the state as a whole over the last few years. But let’s take a closer look.
This is a really excellent piece by Lutz Killian that summarizes much of the current information about shale production as well as its implications. One of the issues recognized by Killian, at least implicitly, is that time and costs are not necessarily on the side of the promises of a revolution.