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David Flynn: Barter is Evil

Barter is Evil is an economics blog where the author, Professor David Flynn (University of North Dakota) encourages the exchange of ideas on economics, economic history and statistics. His blog places an emphasis on the North Dakota economy, which provides us with great insight on the impact of the oil industry boom there.

North Dakota Unemployment Rate, April 2019

North Dakota’s unemployment rate is too low, or so I maintain. The extremely low level is an issue for firms thinking about locating into North Dakota. They would need to bid up wages to lure workers. The April data by county for North Dakota seems to suggest that unemployment rates remain low. For the most part the rates are low across the state, especially in the major metropolitan regions. Rolette county is a bit higher than other parts of the state. The unemployment rate in...

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Why a trade war with Mexico is a bigger deal

So I received several questions about the prospects of trade war with Mexico and why it seemed there was a bigger deal made about it compared to a trade war with China. The answer is pretty obvious when you look at the data. The total flow of goods (imports and exports) between the US and China in 2018 (according to the Census Bureau) was almost $660 billion. In 2018 the same amount for Mexico was just under $612 billion. Now $48 billion is a large sum of money, but I wage it is a...

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Mortgage & Rent in ND Counties

Frequently the discussion on the Jarrod Thomas Show turns to factors like income and costs which can be very tricky to measure. Why tricky? It is not the case that everyone buys the same basket of goods, has the same number of children, same family situation, and so on. We use measures like median and average because they are the best we have, but that does not make them great. Still, you do the job with what you have. To begin here is a look at the median home value in ND...

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Metro Area Income in North Dakota

A recent topic of conversation on the radio has been a comparison of different metropolitan areas in the state of North Dakota. There are many metric used and combined to create these types of rankings and the value of any of them depends on the interests of the readers and the interests of the people in the communities. Sometimes they measure things that are not relevant to people. I prefer to deal with simpler discussions of more definitive measures like income or wages. We can always...

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Natural Increase in North Dakota

I am a big believer that population drives much of the economy in North Dakota. While it may not drive everything the population represents a significant constraint on the potential growth of the state. The migration information has, for the most part, been positive these last several years. There should be similar interest in the rate of natural increase. The rate of natural increase is birth rate less death rate. At the county level it is not always positive which should not be...

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Comparing MLB year-to date

So JT and I are big baseball fans and baseball is a frequent topic on the radio. I decided to take a quick look at the results of the season so far, with a specific look at comparisons with this time last season. Let’s start with what is in all likelihood the most notable difference between last season and this season: the Boston Red Sox. On May 1, 2018 the Red Sox were 21-8 with a +62 run differential. On May 1, 2019 the Red Sox are 14-17 with a -23 run differential. While runs scored...

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Migration & North Dakota in 2018

Immigration, legal and illegal, is clearly a hot story in the news these days. North Dakota is on an international border but it seems that even here the circumstances on the US-Mexico border are of more concern than any impending inflow of Canadians. More on that in another post. It is time to consider some numbers. There are multiple definitions of migration to consider in this post. The unit of analysis will be counties in the state of North Dakota. The measures are all net...

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North Dakota Population Estimates for 2018

The Census Bureau released their latest population estimates by county for the US which includes mid-year estimates for 2018. The state has 760,077 people, which seems to be an all time high. As with all things the distribution matters too. First off, here is the total population change by county: Not a real surprise if you ask me. Cass County is the big change county at more than 3,000 added. The Bakken region is the next up in that regard, with only a few counties losing...

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Additions to the Legacy Fund

Article X, Section 26 of the North Dakota Constitution covers the Legacy Fund and states “Thirty percent of total revenue derived from taxes on oil and gas production or extraction must be transferred by the state treasurer to a special fund in the state treasury known as the legacy fund.” Taxes on oil and gas production and extraction therefore represent the bulk of the additions to the Legacy Fund. The legislation further states that other sources of revenue can be put into the Legacy...

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Legacy Fund Investment Income

So suddenly there are all kinds of public concerns regarding the Legacy Fund. Anybody asking me about it since its inception knows I hate these types of vehicles. They sound good in theory and tend to fail to reach anything close to the theoretical benefits in practice. I voted against it, and I would again. So I am going to break down some of the data about the fund over a series of posts this week. What is the biggest issue at this point? While the legacy fund represents a...

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