The BLS data for Williston continue to tell an unfortunate story of the rapid rise in employment and, for the most part, an equally dramatic reversal. One of the most frequent questions asked about this is whether there will be a reversal of the latest trend when (if?) oil prices recover. I think the jury is out on that front.
Many times people asked me about the relative importance of the agriculture sector and the mining sector so I thought I would show some current data. Now the coal industry output remains almost the same over this time frame, so the oil sector is responsible for the growth. The data run from 2005Q1 to 2015Q3 and the lines display each sector as a share of total GDP (private and public sector).
I originally gave this post the title “My new favorite graph” but figured that was too vague and nondescript. Most of my readers, and anyone who listens to the Jarrod Thomas Show (KNOX 1310 AM, Grand Forks), know I look at lots of graphs and lots of data. It is actually what I do to unwind. Pair that with the attention oil gets in the media (local and national) and you get my new favorite graph.
I am often asked about the relative position of oil and other industries in the ND economy. Usually this is me being asked to settle a dispute between industries as to who is more important or some such nonsense. However, the issue of oil in the North Dakota economy is worth revisiting right now given the decline in oil price and the effects on the state revenue forecast.
The future is always uncertain, but it seems that labor markets in the core Bakken counties could be having their Mark Twain moment: “The report of my death was an exaggeration.” My central argument here is not that the markets are not correcting, and I am not suggesting declines in employment will not happen, though the extent of that decide is obviously debatable. At some level, you might expect people to welcome the pause in the employment growth occurring now. It could reduce pressures in the other related areas such as housing. Regardless of any decline, the data show that employment is still more than twice the level from just 5 years ago (see figure below).