Many people ask me about the challenges for the North Dakota economy moving forward. This is much more difficult to do than it may seem; there are no easy answers here. There are many reasons for this. What seems to be an problem now may resolve itself of its own accord in the near future. It could also be the case new problems arise as a result of federal policy or technological innovations. As Yogi Berra said, “Predicting things is hard. Especially about the future.”
The Bureau of Labor Statistic released updated data for North Dakota today, and as promised I am posting an update to the data from last week. Not much changed really. The preliminary unemployment rate for December 2016 is 3.0% which is the same as the revised rate for November. The November value was originally 2.9%. We are not going to get upset by a .1% revision.
I thought I would add another brief look at the data on North Dakota’s labor market before we close up the year with new data releases next week. Once again these data go through November of 2016, and start in the immediate aftermath of the problems in the oil industry.
After the boom comes the bust, or so we are told. One of the more interesting questions for North Dakota is the extent of the pain, if any, felt during the bust, and how it ends up distributed across the state. To help answer this question we need to continue analysis of the circumstances of growth in North Dakota during this century. Call it a Nearby Economic History. A better understanding of the process of economic growth in the state is 1) important in its own right (knowledge for its own sake is seldom bad), and 2) potentially useful information as the state discusses policies going forward.
The recent drops and volatility in commodities markets, particularly oil, are well-known. One of the big ongoing questions for the state of North Dakota is the impact on the state economy of these new developments in oil. We have seen that oil and gas output is not necessarily suffering with the price decreases or volatility. So where are the effects? You might expect to see it in a graph of labor force, like this: