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There have been articles in some of the printed press recently about the increase in food costs. It is certainly true that prices at the grocery store are higher than a year ago. However, except for some of the meat products which have increased substantially due to the weather I don’t know if an increase of 3 to 4 percent which is the amount I have read is that much.

Especially, when the articles I have seen fail to mention that this is the first increase in prices in the past couple of years. In the meantime, most of those who have not had a layoff have had increases in their earnings over that period. That means the cost of food for many has decreased over that time period and even with this years increase they are spending a smaller percent of their income on food than they did two years ago.

The other thing I have not seen in these articles is what each economic sector’s share of the prices received is.

I recently ran across this table which was calculated by the National Farmers Union. It only shows the farmers share. It doesn’t show how much goes to the transportation sector which is now paying higher fuel costs, nor the processing sector for turning corn into corn flakes. Nor the supermarket for their costs and profits.

The other thing that is important to all of American, and especially to this sector of the country is just how much agricultural prices have declined in the past year and more. While that was also not included in the series, readers can see that by reviewing some of my earlier postings.

I know that most people not involved in the food sector understand how little of the total price the farmer gets. Here is a relatively current example. Thanks to the Farmers Union for providing this data.


I am writing this short commentary to go with these statistics about the North Dakota economy. At the same time I am watching Mrs. Minever on TCM.

It reminds me of just how fortunate we are. How really fortunate we are. I hope we continue to know how to handle this good fortune. America has always had a real advantage in this world because of the natural resources in its lands, and in the wisdom of its people.

Look at where North Dakota was in the second half of 2013. Now, lets continue to do the same, and better, in 2014 and beyond not only in North Dakota, but across the United States.


Yesterday when I posted the city sales tax tables I was missing some of the data for the 3 % motel assessment. I have that data now and have posted the data and my comments. You will find both in the posting immediately below this one. Also, I finally have all the figures for major North Dakota cities building permit numbers for 2013. Again, we can not necessarily compare the actual dollar amount, but the percentage changes are of use for comparison. You will find that table below in the posting about Grand Forks permit values for December 2013 and YTD..

Across North Dakota in 2013 more than 2025 passengers boarded scheduled airlines every week. That means that on average North Dakota added the equivalent of more than six weeks of business compared to 2012. The oil patch cities of Williston and Dickinson lead the way with an increase of more than 47% in Dickinson and nearly 152% in Williston. In the eastern cities Fargo had an increase of over 9% and Grand Forks greater than 8%.

It seems though that the airlines are always making changes that make it difficult for the particular cities to develop a plan to contribute to consistent growth. For example, after having slightly larger increases than Fargo all year at the very end two different airlines at each airport made changes that in the end gave Fargo a ever so slightly larger increase in passengers than Grand Forks. One airline pulled out of Grand Forks and another added seats coming into and leaving Fargo.

The so-called regional airports of Jamestown and Devils Lake continued their downward spiral. Devils Lake is trying to get the certificate transferred from the airline that flies east to one that flies to Denver. I believe they think since Grand Forks lost their Denver flights they will do better going to Denver instead of east. I think they are right. At least I think they need to try. They can’t continue on this years path.

Again, Minot has that slight decrease. As I have said every month I think that is from more seats available in and out of Williston and the end of Minot’s flood flights. I think when we reach that year anniversary of the additional seats we will see that turn around.

We are told that the oil drilling emphasis is moving from the northern part of the Bakken to the southern and comparing the Minot and Dickinson figures by the month to the YTD they seem to support that. Dickinson has the larger percentage increase in the nearby months while Williston has the larger YTD percentage. That tells me traffic has been increasing in the south as the year has been going on.

In any case, commercial airport economics in North Dakota is one of those areas that has really increased as the oil economy has grown. It is one of the real growth areas in our state. Other social and economic areas in those towns are much better than they used to be because of the oil activity. Thanks again Harold Hamm.


I just posted the North Dakota revenues and transfers and now I have the airport boarding data for November. I could leave this until after Christmas, but I thought I would give all of us a Christmas present. After all, what else should we call over a 10% increase in boardings for the year.

Even the cities that have negative numbers have reasons. For instance, Bismarck’s slight decline can probably be explained by there not being a legislative session this year. Minot’s by the fact, as I have written before, by the fact that Williston’s service has now greatly improved and most of the trips attributed to their flood are pretty much over.

There is more I could write and I will after Christmas. In the meantime, here are the stats. Also remember that immediately below is the recent posting on ND’s Revenue and Transfers:


A slowdown in the North Dakota economy. Not if the number of airline boardings are any basis for judging. There are some negatives, but maybe an accurate analysis explains it. For example, Minot, the big town in the oil patch is down over two percent for the month and nearly two percent for the year to date. On the other hand, Williston, the heart of the oil boom, continues to boom. Airline boardings there are up over 260 percent for the month and nearly 200 percent for the year. That’s not just good, it is accurately described as unbelievable, especially this far into the boom.

Even Dickinson which is on the edge of the boom and was slow and late to get into the boom is now booming. For the month compared to a year ago boardings are up nearly 150 percent. For the year it is over 30 percent.

Minot’s small declines can probably be explained mostly by both the winding down of the flood recovery effort and by Williston getting more flights at better times. More seats. Grand Forks argued for that for a long time and when they finally got them their declined recovered practically overnight. That’s where those passengers wanted to go, to Williston, not to Minot.

Finally, as for Bismarck, well it is a government town. Last year at this time the legislature was preparing to go into session and that meant a lot of visits by a lot of people. That also, maybe especially, included the oil business. I don’t usually make predictions, but I would guess that for the next six months we will see declines in Bismarck’s boarding figures.

I am posting this data from North Dakota so it is out there to add to the North Dakota information about our economy. I am going to try and get more information especially on South Dakota and Minnesota and when I do I will up date all of this. If any of you have any suggestions please let me know. In the meantime, here is the ND information:

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