The South Dakota data is not available yet. I am going to post this and when I can add that data I will let you know.

As for the other state listed here, first North Dakota: Unemployment is up slightly as is expected at the beginning of the summer. That is because of all the college students looking for summer jobs. The interesting statistic is that there are 11,600 more people employed in June 2014 than in June 2013.

That is a good increase, but it does also show the maturing of the oil boom. The boom is still occurring as we can see by the number of drilling rigs, etc. However, the numbers have stabilized based on the people available to work the rigs, do the fracking, etc.

As I showed in my comparison posting last week the northern plains economy is improving. North Dakota is still the “best” economy, but the other states included (Minnesota, South Dakota, and Montana) are improving, and I think at rates better than the average around the nation.

So, just look at these and see that things in the plains are continuing as we expect. What I intend to show in the near future is that the new “Great Transformation” is continuing. That is, the new agriculture technology is continuing to empty the plains. Every acre will still be farm, in fact more intensely than it has in the recent past, but it will take fewer people, both on the farms and in the towns. In less than a quarter of a century we will not recognize the plains states.

At the start of the settlement of the plains the technology of the railroad meant a town every six miles. Before the middle of this century there will only be a town every fifty miles, or so. And that’s the truth.

 

All of the data you see here have been published in previous posts is some format. In some cases the dates have been changed. For instance, in the first table on the left the Employment data was published recently, but it covered from May 2000 to May of 2014. This posting is May 2013 compared to May 2014, a shorter time. I did that because most of the other postings were of that time. That is, covering one year only.

I wanted to be able to show my readers a similar time comparison involving the same cities. I have-sort of. As best I can, here is what happened over the past year in the larger towns in North Dakota. Of course that has to include Fargo as the largest town in the state, and it needs to include the changes coming about because of the oil boom, especially Williston and Dickinson.

It also should show what the larger farm towns outside of the oil patch are doing. As I expected, places like Jamestown, Wahpeton, and even Carrington, Langdon and Grafton, while jumping around based on the farm economy of the year demonstrate those dramatic changes occurring in farm technology.

That is. sometimes the economy in those towns goes up when the ag economy is good, but the population and employment continues down as the technology shows people are being replaced by machines-huge machines with huge price tags.

Agriculture is in a boom time, but unlike oil successful ag means fewer people. Fewer farmers, fewer service people for those fewer farmers. Service people mean fewer bankers, now called financial experts, and fewer mechanics, now called technicians. There maybe is only half the machinery dealers, but they are huge5 What cost maybe $120000 less than a decade ago cost $400,000 today. Then a good day the machine covered 120 a day. Today it is 250 acres in a day. The first sprayer I used had a boom width of less than 50 feet. Today with 1500 plus gallon tank the boom width is about 140 feet. Eight and one half rounds to cover a quarter section and taking time to fill only once with that 1500 gallons. Push a couple buttons and take your hands off the steering wheel. Fewer people, fewer farms. You have to look two miles to see the closes neighbor. That is the only way to make it work. No more 400 to 800 people towns, and the 4000 population town is now 1875 people. And the ride is just starting. Hold on.

So, look at these figures. We will get more specific over time, but this is our future. Every acre will still be farmed, more intense. but you won’t recognize the farm. There might not be anyone in the machine. They will be back in the control center watching the screen and reading all the gauges. Of course they won’t adjust the settings, that will be done automatically.

Imagine what North Dakota would look like if Harold Hamm hadn’t developed fracking. Imagine the wealth that would just be sitting in the rocks at 10000 feet below the surface. Where would the money have come from.

A Minnesota paper carried an article about the railroad union agreeing with the railroad company to allow “freight trains” in the near future to run with only one person. I assume that person would be the engineer, but maybe not. What do you call that person? What does our life become as I watch a science program about scientist in South America looking for that fish that will feed the world. What a terrible world with no Red River Valley potatoes. What a boring life that will be.

 

I know some don’t like it and it is not over yet; the increase in jobs in North Dakota I mean. Who does like the increase in crime, broken pipelines and the other negatives the western part of the state has put up with. On the other hand, remember, before this started a decade ago we were a poor state. People like the Poppers said we shouldn’t have been. Magazines like National Geographic sent a photographer out here to find an old farmstead with the front door of the farm home blowing in the wind. The eastern elite wanted to turn us into their playground.

Following several years of declines in the number of jobs in North Dakota, and in the states population the oil boom has finally turned that around. Now the elite in North Dakota are in Fargo. Their press, printed and electronic, write pontificating stories about farming and about energy development. Even the oil patches own write absurdities. One daily blamed a police failure of a major crime investigated by both the local and state police on the oil boom. Said there was just too much to do.

Some think that other areas of economic growth at least contributed to the increase, but I don’t think that is true. It may be that the increase in manufacturing, particularly ag manufacturing, and in certain areas like Microsoft and less well known computer software and hardware firms slowed the decrease down, but I don’t think any were large enough to make up for the decrease in farming population and the secondary jobs farming brought to small towns.

I am talking about all the small town lumber yards, hardware stores, machinery dealers and car and pickup dealerships now gone. Go to Grafton, Carrington, Lamoure, any little town outside of the oil patch. It is sad. And it is the truth.

On the other hand, in a half dozen or so shopping center towns there was some growth. Look at the table above, in the classification of city, of MSA, of MiSa (micropolitan statistical area), it was only Jamestown and Wahpeton which lost jobs, and population.

Then we do take the positive like growth in manufacturing and add it to the oil boom and North Dakota over the past four to six years has had an increase, a large increase, in the number of jobs and in population.

I won’t repeat the data, but just say that without the oil boom our job numbers would be down substantially over this time. I will also say that when the oil boom is built if something else, possibly another energy development doesn’t happen we will drop from our peak. However, we will still be larger than we were in 2000.

In the meantime, ain’t this great, or so I think.

 

Probably only four comments to make concerning this months airline boardings:
First, Jamestown and Devils Lake are again getting airline service, and this is the first time that all of the eight commercial airports in North Dakota have jet service. Does that make a difference? Well, the destination may have something to do with it, but look at the numbers. For June 2014 compared to June 2013 Devils Lake increased nearly 22 percent, and Jamestown over 53 percent.
Second, the increase in the oil patch is still substantial. A lot of it may be secondary spending coming from the growth. Things like new retail coming in, or hotels, etc. Whatever, Dickinson, the hot spot in exploration, is up 153 percent for the year. Williston, the mature boomtown is only up 25 percent.
Third, and most surprising, and probably disappointing, Grand Forks is down nearly 10 percent for the month, and that is enough to make them down slightly for the year to date comparison. I haven’t heard of any reason for it. Their building permits are heading towards another record. Their city sales taxes are still positive and a good increase. While Canadian crossings at Pembina are down for the year, the motel taxes and restaurant and lounge taxes are up suggesting good retail sales. Maybe there is a decrease in the UAV traffic, but it is hard to imagine that would be down a 1000 people in a month. 10 percent is a lot.
I hope someone is studying this. After so many disappointing years Grand Forks aviation was experiencing substantial growth. Is Fargo “buying” those seats? What caused that city’s substantial increase, especially compared to the Grand Forks traffic.
Finally, when ever I read about the oil boom it seems there is always something about state permits, or hearings. It has always made me wonder why Bismarck appears to grow so little, especially this year with all the activity in Dickinson.

 

First, be sure to look at the report below this one. It was also just posted and covers the city sales taxes for July as well as the First Quarter 2014 state sales taxes.

As for this report, it is the most recent report about North Dakota oil and gas production. Another million barrels a day report. Even a little better than when North Dakota finally broke through that milestone last month. With more and more wells being completed we can expect that figure to continue increasing. Of course as more and more wells move into that post twenty month age that will lead to a daily decline, but we should have enough wells by then to stay in that category for many years for now.

Now the next interesting thing is what will happen to the natural gas production. We should see that become a major business in the state.

At this point it is just watching the market maturing.