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.
The BLS data for Williston continue to tell an unfortunate story of the rapid rise in employment and, for the most part, an equally dramatic reversal. One of the most frequent questions asked about this is whether there will be a reversal of the latest trend when (if?) oil prices recover. I think the jury is out on that front.
The future is always uncertain, but it seems that labor markets in the core Bakken counties could be having their Mark Twain moment: “The report of my death was an exaggeration.” My central argument here is not that the markets are not correcting, and I am not suggesting declines in employment will not happen, though the extent of that decide is obviously debatable. At some level, you might expect people to welcome the pause in the employment growth occurring now. It could reduce pressures in the other related areas such as housing. Regardless of any decline, the data show that employment is still more than twice the level from just 5 years ago (see figure below).
I had to finish the statistics and report for a grant project so there was a break from the blogging. Now that the Cubs are actually playing meaningful baseball in October I am not sure how often I will get back to this, but I will try. I mentioned this graph recently when talking with local business people and thought I would replicate it here.
The December numbers for employment came out and I thought we would look at the mining category (which includes logging) against the West Texas Intermediate crude price per barrel. What we see is the following: