David Flynn: North Dakota Falls Off Booming Income Pace

You can tell it is an election year. There are all kinds of polls being done (my household answered more than a few) about all types of issues. I heard some discussion (and if I can remember where I will post any available link) about how is North Dakota doing, as in an attitudinal survey. My guess is that people will say, overall, that North Dakota is doing well. I am not a huge advocate of such surveys because they typically seem too vague to me. I prefer to track more definite numbers when possible.

Here is median income in North Dakota and the United States.

Median Income in ND and the US, 1984-2013

Median Income in ND and the US, 1984-2013

My guess is that many surveys are going to say the North Dakota is doing well. How well? That is still up in the air. Recall that the median divides the population in half, so 50% are above and 50% are below. So the median income in North Dakota is actually higher than the United States as a whole. So my guess is a majority of people would say North Dakota is doing well.

To hammer that point home consider the following:

Ratio of ND median income to US median income, 1984-2013

Ratio of ND median income to US median income, 1984-2013

In the year 2000 North Dakota median income was approximately 80% of the United States level. It peaked in 2011 at better than 110% of the US level. That is an enormous change in a short amount of time as far as these measures go.

The rate has come back a bit of late, due in part to a temporary pause in growth out west and a fall off from peak years in farming. It will be interesting to see how whether the ratio turns again or if it dips back below the US level for any length of time. North Dakota’s growth is still tremendous, but as growth processes mature they do not necessarily keep up the pace of early boom years.

Rob Port is the editor of SayAnythingBlog.com, a columnist for the Forum News Service, and host of the Plain Talk Podcast which you can subscribe to by clicking here.

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