What is the importance of the oil industry to employment in North Dakota? This is a really good question, and one that is not necessarily the easiest to answer. In the last year this same question generated all kinds of arguments about the relative importance of agriculture versus oil in the North Dakota economy. That debate is not the purpose of this post though.
I borrowed the National Association of Realtors Housing Affordability Index calculation (formula available here) to look at Burleigh, Cass, and Grand Forks county housing data. The NAR published by metro area and year, but the latest release does not include Grand Forks. I assume that is a data availability issue.
You can tell it is an election year. There are all kinds of polls being done (my household answered more than a few) about all types of issues. I heard some discussion (and if I can remember where I will post any available link) about how is North Dakota doing, as in an attitudinal survey. My guess is that people will say, overall, that North Dakota is doing well. I am not a huge advocate of such surveys because they typically seem too vague to me. I prefer to track more definite numbers when possible. Here is median income in North Dakota and the United States.
Last week I was part of a business roundtable for Congressman Kevin Cramer. There were several topics discussed but I presented some information about the labor force in the North Dakota metropolitan and micropolitan areas. I calculated three-year and one year monthly growth rates and then projected out the labor force based on those rates. This is an inherently linear projection method which is less than desirable but the inherent nonlinearities in the ND data are somewhat difficult to identify.
I thought I would switch focus a little bit on the housing issue. The discussion largely is a matter of price and availability. As I mentioned before, we really do not have a large number of sales that give us the ability to suggest markets are working well at any given time in most housing markets. That does not mean we automatically assume a market failure though.