Positive economic numbers not trickling down yet

While the federal government parades around positive top-sheet economic numbers, any trickle-down effect appears to have failed to reach Minot.

The Minot Area Chamber of Commerce issued its August Minot/Ward County Economy at a Glance study last week and there are few items to prompt an increase in confidence.

For some people, it is a cost of living comparison that would probably catch the eye, considering how far we are removed from the inflation that accompanied the post-flood and boom economies. Minot’s overall cost of living was 1.7 percent higher than the national average during the first quarter of 2018. Groceries continued to be more expensive here than Bismarck, Fargo/Moorhead, Grand Forks, Pierre and Minneapolis. Minot ranked very close to the top in several other categories.

Several revenue statistics are also not calls for optimism. The first quarter of 2018, relative to the same period in 2017, is currently tracking us down about $5 million in the city and county in taxable sales and purchases, and down in terms of new residential building permits. Sales tax collection is down year to year and year-to-date hotel occupancy continues to hover around 40 percent.

While these numbers aren’t encouraging, some others are notable. Unemployment continues to be virtually non-existent, even compared to the minimal national statistics – it was actually lower in the city and county this summer than last June. The number of single family home sales is up and use of the airport has ticked up.

At best, it is a mixed bag that does not seem to reflect either strong consumer confidence or a dip in post-boom inflation.

There are more worrisome numbers than encourging ones, but hopefully that will soon be offset by increased optimism, the impact of resilience grant investment, development of the new Trinity Health complex and continued improvement in the national economy.

There’s generally a silver lining and individual choice about what numbers upon which to concentrate.