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Well, all I can say here is that this months border crossing data is confusing, at least to me. As it has been for some time the Canadian dollar has continued to lose its value relative to the the U.S. dollar. In fact by quite a bit over the past year (see last item on the chart). That is considered a significant drop compared to a year ago.

Now we know that the oil boom continues in North Dakota, and that includes the relationship(s) between the North Dakota oil and the Canadian sands oil, so that is part of the increase in traffic.

So too is the improving economy between Canada and the U.S. so that accounts for some of the increase, especially in Fargo and Grand Forks.

However, the increase in the number of people crossing at the border stations, especially Pembina and the smaller crossing in North Dakota and Minnesota is hard to understand. Generally those are private citizens coming for the Canadian “holiday” weekends and for shopping excursions, especially to Grand Forks and Fargo, and to a smaller amount in Minot, Bismarck, and Williston.

Now, with nearly a 10 percent drop in the drop in value of the Canadian dollar relative to the U.S. there was over a 13 percent increase in border traffic. That is a lot in any case, but it is confusing under these circumstances. We will just have to see if this is a one time aberration, or the leading edge of real improvement, which we hope for.

 

If you read the national and regional news there isn’t much I can add here for the employment report for the northern plains. Well, some detail that most readers probably know, but just to emphasize here it is:

North Dakota is still growing. There is some growth that is explainable, but I am not sure about some of it. For instance, the growth in Fargo, the size of the growth is a little hard to understand compared to the rest of the country. The only thing I would say is that town is continuing to be the Twin Cities furthest northwest suburban area and Minnesota, especially the Twin Cities metropolitan area, and more, has had good growth the past year. I think Fargo and Sioux Falls are benefiting from that growth. Good for North Dakota.

Good for South Dakota, too. Probably it is more accurate to say even “gooder” for South Dakota. Unlike North Dakota, South Dakota doesn’t have those four bigger towns and then a few medium size. Instead, it has one big town (Sioux Falls) and then several bigger towns that have significant economies.

Of course South Dakota doesn’t have the oil boom economy and its growth hasn’t been as dramatic as North Dakota’s, but it has had a good recovery and it shows with the good unemployment rates in those “bigger small towns”.

While the wild growth days of the oil boom in North Dakota is gone (as planned for), but there is still plenty of growth left. There are suppose to be 25,000 plus unfilled jobs still in the state. What happens this fall could create a change if voters take an anti-growth attitude. It will be interesting to see what happens and could give journalist a lot to write about for the next two years. As for me, I don’t expect that, at least to any significant degree.

In the meantime, here is the report for this month, and as I said about the state revenues report last week: “Second verse, same as the first, a little bit….

 

Second verse same as the verse. A little…. You remember the song, and I don’t mean to be repetitive in my comments, but I just have to say this. Although it is not a great amount the legislative forecast at the end of April is off by even more than it was last month.

In total the amount received at the end of April is nearly 9% more than forecast. Last month that figure was 7.1%. The error is nearly 30% more than last month.

You might also remember that OMB said that a lot of the problem would be solved when income tax payers, especially the corporate, sent their final tax reports in and corrected for over payments they had made. Last month the corporate income tax collections were about 42% larger than the projections. This month that figure is about 39%. That is not much. The difference for the individual income taxes is less than 2%.

In sum, individual tax collections are nearly 36% larger than projected collections, and corporate nearly 39% larger. That is a lot.

The only account that is even close is sales tax collections. That is a peculiar account to be close given North Dakota’s still booming economy, and then to miss the income taxes by so much.

Remember, both income taxes were changed and state sales taxes remained the same. Seems to me Economy.com didn’t know how to adjust for changes to the income tax, both corporate and individual.

Finally, I will note again, and hope those in charge of preparing and voting on the next bienniums budget, keep in mind these continuing errors. If not, when the economy, even the growth in the economy, slows down we will find the North Dakota budget in deficit. With the total receipts being only about 9% greater than the projections income would be about $5 million dollars short if the two income tax accounts had been correct just to this point in the biennium, or $12 million at the end of the biennium if the North Dakota economy stays like this. We easily could handle that, but if it continues through the time that will amount to a significant amount-something unnecessary.

 

Close but no gold ring yet. Some of the press are putting out stories about reaching the million barrel mark, and realizing it is just a number, that it doesn’t make that much difference really, but the reality is North Dakota still isn’t there.

Why? Hard to say for sure without a valid review, but really, that review isn’t worth the cost. In all likelihood it is simply given the continuing weather problems it hasn’t been worth the cost of making that mark. Now, if this was WW II and we needed that oil for the war we would be there and well beyond. Today, however, it simply as I said, not worth the cost, not worth the effort in terms of the economic costs, and probably the human costs. Oil drilling is dangerous enough, but it is not worth the chance of serious injury, or even death to reach a particular number.

Anyway, we are nearly there and probably will be next month unless this weather is still with us. As the data from the other oil patches shows, the Bakken continues to be America’s largest oil field. It will continue to be the largest unless there is some human interference.

Those who want to celebrate can probably do so soon. Very soon. We will see next month.

By the way, I have added the gas flaring information so we can watch that continuing reduction

 

Well, the northern plains remain what is probably the best area of the country as far as unemployment being a problem is concerned.

Of course when I say that North Dakota remains the best as far as a low unemployment rate. Mostly that is because of the continuing oil expansion. It also has been because a great agricultural period that is now starting to slow down, significantly.

Minnesota has had one of the best employment improvements compared to most of the other states. Their state budget surplus is great and their unemployment rate is among the best in the U.S. South Dakota and Montana are really a little of each.

One thing about the farm states in the past is that when there were not jobs available you simply packed up and moved on to where there were jobs. Of course there were jobs in those other places then. Today, probably not, so when it is time to move on from Jamestown or Devils Lake will there be any place to go? Maybe to a limited degree Fargo and even Grand Forks for the industrial jobs. Maybe Williston, Minot, Dickinson and other towns in the Patch if there still is a demand out there at that time. Otherwise in a generation or two we will become just another state of unemployment.

In the meantime, here we are, still in the good times. North Dakota continues to lead the way in employment growth, personal income, and tax