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Economies of Fargo, Bismarck metro areas expected to grow in 2022

North Dakota's economy has improved overall since the last quarter of 2021, with the labor force and wages and salaries expected to continue to grow.

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Axel Navarro installs sash hardware Thursday, Sept. 23, 2021, at Marvin Windows in West Fargo. Marvin plans to expand its footprint in the Fargo area in 2022. An economic outlook report released Thursday, March 10, 2022, from North Dakota State University forecasts that the economy of the Fargo-Moorhead metropolitan area will grow in 2022.
David Samson / The Forum
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FARGO — The economies of the Fargo and Bismarck metropolitan areas are being forecast to grow in 2022, as part of a general upward trend for North Dakota’s economy, according to a report released Thursday, March 10.

The Economic Outlook Quarterly report, released by The Center for the Study of Public Choice and Private Enterprise at North Dakota State University, uses data available from the St. Louis Federal Reserve as of Feb. 25.

Key points from the report, which is based on data available so far for January, February and March, include:

  • North Dakota's economic outlook has improved since the last quarter and shows signals for economic growth in 2022. Wages and salaries are forecast to grow about 2% per quarter this year. The labor force is forecast to grow and the rate of unemployment to decline. Total tax collections are expected to be strong - especially with the recent growth in the oil markets, and rising gross state product.
  • The economic outlook for North Dakota’s metro areas is positive for Fargo-Moorhead-West Fargo and Bismarck, but neutral for the Grand Forks-East Grand Forks, Minn., area.
  • In Fargo and Bismarck, wages, the labor force, and housing prices are all forecast to continue to trend higher.
  • Fargo’s labor force is forecast to grow about 1% per quarter through 2022, with unemployment likely to decline, perhaps soon reaching pre-pandemic levels. Bismarck’s labor force is forecast to see mild growth, with unemployment - at 3% in the last quarter - continuing to decrease.
  • The Grand Forks-East Grand Forks (Minn.) area has a neutral outlook, with wages and unemployment likely to remain steady. The labor force and housing prices are forecast to be in a growth trend. Housing prices have seen strong growth in recent quarters, and that is expected to continue this year.
  • The national economy is showing signs of slowing down. The gross domestic product (the total value of all finished goods and services) is forecast to grow early this year, before starting to decline. Growth in consumption, net investment and corporate profits are expected to plateau, with prices trending higher.

The report uses a forecasting model developed by NDSU professor Jeremy Jackson, director of The Center for the Study of Public Choice and Private Enterprise.
The Russian invasion of Ukraine started Feb. 24, a day before the report was released.

Jackson, reached Friday, March 11, said the analysis doesn’t include any data tied to the trade and other economic disruptions caused by the war, and since data collection has a lag time, will probably not be fully reflected in the next quarterly report, either.

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“It’s one of these really big pieces of uncertainty,” he said.

Higher gas prices, plus any supply chain disruptions caused by the war, will probably continue to fuel inflation, Jackson said.

However, since North Dakota exports its oil, the state’s economy, at least in the short term, should do well.

The report says wheat and corn prices are plateauing and that soybean prices did increase as predicted in the last quarter. Soy prices are now expected to stabilize.

Jackson said the North Dakota economy often operates counter to the nation’s economic cycle.

“We have historically done well when the rest of the country doesn’t do so well,” he said. “We are a state that is a net exporter. We export more than we import. Most of the country is in a trade deficit, we operate in a trade surplus” with oil and agricultural commodities.

A key for the agricultural sector is whether North Dakota can get its harvest through any supply chain hurdles to buyers around the globe, Jackson said.

Helmut Schmidt is a reporter for The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead's business news team. Readers can reach him by email at hschmidt@forumcomm.com, or by calling (701) 241-5583.
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