So I exchanged text messages with a friend about local economic data last week, and they asked about the rate of inflation and wage gains and what was happening with that nationally and locally. Enough sources deal with the national picture that I decided to focus on the local picture for this post. I used the CPI (all urban consumers, national average), since that is what my friend discussed, to calculate the real value of annual pay for Grand Forks county.
The big month is finally here! We now have a month with sales tax numbers reflecting the increased sales tax rate for the Grand Forks. We are all so happy that we could… Alright, enough of that. The results are somewhat to be expected. From the May 2018 total June was down over $200,000. Costs go up with the sales tax increase and people and businesses adjust if they are able. The more problematic part really is that June 2018 is down almost 1% fro June 2017, more than $120,000. These are not outcomes we particularly like even though they are somewhat predictable.
I am forgoing the typical numerical analysis for the purposes of the current post and just trying to reason through the problem that is economic development and economic development policy in Grand Forks. I got to spend some time in other cities over the last few days and so I have some fairly fresh points of comparison in mind.
The May release came out earlier this week and was a real whopper. It was quite high and well outside the 95% confidence interval of the forecast from last month. We need another month, or months, of data to determine the impacts of the tax increase though. This number could be high in anticipation of the higher rate, or it could be pent up demand shifted to March due to bad weather in January or February. Easter also occurred in March this year and, as my forecasting class saw, that increased sales tax collections in Grand Forks in the past so it could be that situation again. It could also be related to tax cuts at the federal level though I am a bit skeptical that it would just start showing up in spending data for March. Like I said though we need to see where it is at over the next few months before determining the longer term trajectory. Here is the updated forecast.
The economic definition of labor force is a bit different from the conventional view. The labor force is employed plus unemployed, who by definition are those without a job but looking for work. I bring this up to avoid any confusion with the variable actually being forecast.