With the debt ceiling issue shelved (temporarily, I mean three months is no time at all) most eyes turn towards tax policy now. There are enough games played regarding language right now, “Tax reform” v. “Tax relief” v. “Tax cuts”, that it would seem we are in for an extended debate, or a really long argument. With leadership apparently content to draft plans outside of the committee process there seems to be little chance to quell discontent from within their own party.
My posting has been light, well nonexistent, as I am switching to a different web host. That should be finished soon and posting will continue. However, I looked at some labor market data for North Dakota cities and had to put together a quick post.
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).