As I consider the current state of the North Dakota economy as well as the economic outlook, I continue to think about labor market issues. Last week on the radio the discussion of wages resonated with the audience, and is obviously a key factor in relieving labor constraints. Realistically, internal demographic issues (low birth rates, outmigration, etc.) and environmental issues (North Dakota winters tend to be cold) could be resolved by appropriate levels for wages. The precise amount of compensating differential is not my target right now, I am just recognizing that such a circumstance could exist.
I argued before that North Dakota is labor-constrained. My thinking on this went through multiple iterations, and I continue to try and refine this. In particular the data to demonstrate this most clearly just may not exist at this time, but I continue to pursue it. Here is the state of wages from Q1 2017 by county in North Dakota.
I testified in front of the state legislature forecast committee at the end of July and gave my feedback on proper process improvement North Dakota could, and should, make. Each of the items I mentioned could be an entire discussion on its own which makes testimony under a time limit a bit of an issue. And then I realized, I have a blog, so I can extend my thoughts as needed. The first point to discuss further is forecast horizon.
The three frequent readers of my blog over the last several months probably noticed a repeating theme to my posts: population. A logical question to ask would be, why this focus? Quite frankly, and this is my opinion, population is the root of economic activity and the very economic actors we attempt to model.
Americans Are Dying Younger, Saving Corporations Billions – Bloomberg
This is a really important article for businesses, but especially those in North Dakota. With a long reputation of "greying faster than the country as a whole" it raises the question of whether businesses in the state, or the state, would reap similar (potential) benefits. The simple fact is that we continue to see errors made in terms of benefit contributions and shortfalls in pensions, even in North Dakota. We can do the math better and we should.