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.
What is the likely effect of oil price declines on the Grand Forks regional economy? This is a question I get quite often right now, and it is difficult to answer. While I investigate I thought we could look at the employment situation in Grand Forks county over the last several years. There are a couple of interesting things to consider. First, let’s consider the percent change, year-over-year, in Grand Forks county employment.
I thought I would update some of the employment numbers I posted before on the site. The Bureau of Labor Statistics released revised numbers for October and preliminary numbers for November. Based on these releases employment from October 2014 to November 2014 declined by 4,291. (Cue dramatic music.) Of course this is a great concern for many, and I do not fault them for that. Oil and gas extraction, and the closely related industries, were clear growth leaders for the state as a whole over the last few years. But let’s take a closer look.