Challenges for North Dakota, pt. 1

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.”

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County Average Wages in ND, 2015

As part of a deeper look at many factors related to North Dakota economic development, growth, and, for lack of a better term, “transition” I am looking at a broad set of data (even broader than normal). Think of it as a jigsaw puzzle where you do not know the number of pieces ahead of time and do not know the end picture you need to assemble. That is kind of where I am right now. That said, I thought I could share a recent picture I made.

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ND Births By County, 2011-16

For those that question the impact of the oil boom, I offer up this post on birth rates. Now the answers are not quite as obvious as you might expect. It is probably important that you recall my earlier post about the net migration by county for North Dakota (found here). The beginning year for our look at birth rates is 2011 where we see the leaders in birth rates are counties with sizable Native American populations. There is, as yet, no boom in the Bakken area, and there is a remarkable degree of consistency as far as rates across the state.

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Individual Income Tax Revenue

The latest numbers from the state OMB showed some interesting information regarding taxes, again. Rather than focus on sales tax this time I thought we could branch out into income taxes. Why? Sales tax revenues get the bulk of attention in the media and from me generally and I think branching out is important. Another reason is as the impacts and effects of the oil decline transmit into other sectors more fully, and the state budget cutting starts to fully take effect, we will see other revenues exhibit declines. My interest in the overall forecasting process, if we can call it that, also means we need to branch out into other revenue areas to understand the complete picture of the revenue process. The individual income tax revenue was also almost $20 million short of the forecast in May. With that in mind here is the picture for actual versus forecast individual income tax revenues in North Dakota:

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Radio Themes: Constraints in North Dakota

The conversations on the radio lately deal with a very particular issue with ramifications for Grand Forks and North Dakota in general. Last week the question asked was, “Are we out of money in North Dakota?” By itself I cannot do much with that question, so I choose to rephrase it. I think it better to ask, “Are we hitting up against constraints in North Dakota?”

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(Repost) Net migration in North Dakota

I am teaching demographic methods, population analysis, whatever you want to call it this summer. The class title is not the really important thing to me, it is more a matter of content. Don’t get me wrong, I am all for accurate titles, but neither title is deceptive and most people have no idea what it is anyway regardless of the title.
With that in mind I thought I would include a few maps from my recent presentation at the state demographics conference. I gave the morning keynote address and talked about the basics of some of the demographic changes as well as the implications of those changes. The following series of maps is pretty important confirmation of what happened in North Dakota.

It will be really important to pay attention to the color scale on these maps. The lighter the color the higher the amount of net migration per 1,000 people in the population. Net migration is the amount of inflow less the amount of outflow, so higher numbers imply a higher local population, at least due to the migration aspects.

Clearly we see the impacts of the oil boom here. Enormously positive net migration into western North Dakota, particularly the Bakken region was the norm in 2011 and 2012.

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Risks in Revenue Forecasting

I think it hardly needs mentioning again, but I guess I will: the legislative process in North Dakota probably makes it even more important that we have some confidence in our revenue forecasts. Our legislators are meeting for three months to determine budgets for the next two years. There is always the possibility of a special session if need arises, but you want that to be the truly exceptional case. Now I am not suggesting that anyone will ever get the numbers spot on, 100% accurate, but we can get closer.

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Demographic Analytics in North Dakota

I will be attending the Second State Demographics Conference in Bismarck on Monday the 27th. Okay, that is not quite accurate. I am giving a keynote address as well as running a breakout session. The keynote looks at the how and why of demographic analysis in the state of North Dakota. In the breakout I am actually showing how I came up with the various different items in my presentation from sources to analysis. The spreadsheet (or spreadsheets, not sure if it will be one Excel workbook or many) will be available at the conference and later on here.

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