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.”
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.
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.
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: