Recently I visited New York City and had occasion to talk with some people about the situation with oil in North Dakota. The question on their mind has to do with the continued high level of oil production despite the decreased price. Rather than total amount of oil produced, or barrels per day, let’s consider a different measurement, the amount of oil per rig.
The subtitle of this post could be bludgeoning the reader with numbers, but oh well.
As I mentioned in last week’s post (available here) there was a scheduled update to the detailed data on state-level real GDP this week. With any update like this there are many different dimensions to consider. The first aspect to consider is the release of new data. New data provides us an updated look at the state of the economy and (hopefully) a better sense of the good, the bad, and yes, the ugly. In these releases there are also updates to the older data. More complete information is available as time passes so we get a better look at what happened in the recent past.
I imagine the different sectors of economic activity in any state argue about their relative importance. Lately the contest in North Dakota has been about the relative importance of agriculture and mining. My personal opinion is that if the data support an actual argument of this point than you are fortunate enough. These debates rage though and so I tend to investigate. There are many different ways to approach these types of questions but I am not going to go through a refereeing of different methods. I will just go through what I think the data are trying to impart to us.
The latest, greatest way to track performance in the U.S. oil industry is to look at the rig count released by Baker Hughes (see this Bloomberg article for a bit of discussion and links). The rig count was down 64 as U.S. oil companies continued retrenching in the face of lower oil prices.
So employment data in North Dakota occupied most of my thoughts over the last week or so. I thought it time to take a quick look at earnings data from the Bureau of Economic Analysis. Quite often I hear people mention the concept of diversification with a local economy as if it represents a buffer against downturns. I am still thinking about; I am not sure I buy it either in part or in whole. That will need to wait for another day.