So JT asked me about the existence of a labor shortage in Grand Forks. Essentially asking if there really is one or is it something we make up to explain some issue in local labor markets. Let’s first understand that this can change from time to time, month to month as it were. Let’s go to the data.
A closer look at recent sales tax data seems a logical follow-up to the long run view from last time. There are two things to note from this graph: 1) the negative trend is still clearly evident, and 2) the reduction in volatility from the twelve month rolling is clear.
The January sales tax collections data came out recently and I want to take a longer view of the data here. This typically means messier graphs because the time scale gets compressed. I will put up a post with a shorter timeline tomorrow. Why the longer timeline? I think it is necessary if we are going to try and interpret or understand the numbers we are currently seeing.
It is a constant refrain on my part. Population is the key. This is true if I am in class teaching undergraduate or graduate students, on the radio talking with JT or the public, or in casual conversation with family or friends. Population is a key to growth, and I think most people get it. The problem is arriving at a policy that encourages sustainable population growth. North Dakota has more jobs than unemployed, and has had the problem for a long time, indicating an issue with attracting in-migration in needed numbers. Neither have we seen a demographic change in births or mortality sufficient to overcome these problems.
I am not too excited by this graph to be honest. I took a look at some education and enrollment statistics from the Census. The base for the percentage is children over three enrolled in school. The analysis also includes college and graduate school enrollment. This explains why the Grand Forks and Cass counties show such a low number. Their university enrollments work against them in this regard.