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.

Continue reading Visualizing Grand Forks Sales Tax

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Clearing out more of the questions asked on the radio lately. The announcement of the closure of the Macy’s in the local mall set some callers into fits. Their issues and questions ranged from: Is this a harbinger of future closures in Grand Forks and/or Fargo; to: this mall has inadequate numbers of stores and the wrong kind. There were lots of other issues raised too, so let’s clear a few of these things up right now.

Continue reading Grand Forks & Retail

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Minimum wage returned to the Jarrod Thomas Show as a topic this week and it seemed appropriate to answer a few questions and respond to a few points in more detail than I could during the program. First, empirically, the outcomes from legislation increasing minimum wages is far from clear. Most people apply a Principles of Microeconomics level analysis and have supply and demand curves and a price floor that drives a wedge. As I say on the radio when this comes up, this is good, as far as it goes, and unfortunately that is not very far.

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The legislature is in session and there is a natural concern about policy in the state, and hopefully even greater concerns about the data employed to make the policy decisions. With the first round boom in the state’s oil industry over there are now significant discussions about the path forward. Obvious questions include: what is the likelihood of eventual recovery in the industry? How will an oil recovery impact the larger economy? These are great questions to ask (and there are many more), though they are actually quite complex to answer. Let’s consider some recent population data released by the U.S. Census Bureau.

Continue reading North Dakota Population Dynamics

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