Risks in Revenue Forecasting

I think it hardly needs mentioning again, but I guess I will: the legislative process in North Dakota probably makes it even more important that we have some confidence in our revenue forecasts. Our legislators are meeting for three months to determine budgets for the next two years. There is always the possibility of a special session if need arises, but you want that to be the truly exceptional case. Now I am not suggesting that anyone will ever get the numbers spot on, 100% accurate, but we can get closer.

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Demographic Analytics in North Dakota

I will be attending the Second State Demographics Conference in Bismarck on Monday the 27th. Okay, that is not quite accurate. I am giving a keynote address as well as running a breakout session. The keynote looks at the how and why of demographic analysis in the state of North Dakota. In the breakout I am actually showing how I came up with the various different items in my presentation from sources to analysis. The spreadsheet (or spreadsheets, not sure if it will be one Excel workbook or many) will be available at the conference and later on here.

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The Song Remains the Same

The state released an updated forecast from Moody’s today along with some slides that make little sense (found here). I would go into the details of the forecast but why bother? We have absolutely no insight into the forecast process followed, the assumptions underlying any model relationships, or even a list of variables employed and the time period considered. Seriously, if this were my forecasting class, they would fail.

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Tax Revenue Forecast Revisions in ND

We are getting a new forecast this week for tax revenues in North Dakota. Or so we are told. I’ve written about the problems with these forecasts in the past, but there is a further issue here needing discussion. The simple fact of the matter is a lack of good practice in the overall approach, particularly with how forecast results are disseminated.

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Updated labor force data

The Bureau of Labor Statistic released updated data for North Dakota today, and as promised I am posting an update to the data from last week. Not much changed really. The preliminary unemployment rate for December 2016 is 3.0% which is the same as the revised rate for November. The November value was originally 2.9%. We are not going to get upset by a .1% revision.

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North Dakota Employment, post boom (briefly)

Just a brief post about employment since the oil boom ended. As we are all aware we went right into a bust after the boom, which is not always the case, but that is a topic for another day. With that in mind I looked at the employment data since that time, essentially early 2015. Now keep in mind there were significant gains made, and I am not even close to claiming that we gave up all the gains, but we can identify the specific change event so it makes sense to look at variables after that event.

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Visualizing Grand Forks Sales Tax

Yesterday’s post (found here) mentioned Grand Forks retail and the fact that sales were behind last year’s level. As a recap, the accumulated total of monthly collections in 2016, when compared to the same month in 2015, were all lower, and in some cases by significant amounts. Collections from a few specific months were ahead of the same month the year before, but the accumulated total never got higher than 2015.

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