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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Tax Revenue Forecast Revisions in ND

We are getting a new forecast this week for tax revenues in North Dakota. Or so we are told. I’ve written about the problems with these forecasts in the past, but there is a further issue here needing discussion. The simple fact of the matter is a lack of good practice in the overall approach, particularly with how forecast results are disseminated.

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Updated labor force data

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.

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North Dakota Employment, post boom (briefly)

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.

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North Dakota and Minimum Wage

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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North Dakota County Median Income

By now it is well documented, here and perhaps everywhere, that North Dakota experienced a significant economic transition over the last ten years. How permanent and sustainable a change is the current question. At the risk of editorializing too much I will just point out, that is almost always the question, and we seldom have an answer until well after the fact. This issue aside, I looked at the median income data by county in North Dakota. The data are the 5-year estimates from the Census Bureau. If you want all counties in the state that is the data series you need to employ, and since I want to look at counties across the state that is what I chose. I took each county median income measure and divided it by the median income for the state as a whole to see how the individual counties changed over time. The first year was 2009.

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