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Old 06-19-2015, 10:25 AM
 
Location: Fargo, ND
418 posts, read 1,185,187 times
Reputation: 304

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Here is a link to the Regional Workforce Study released yesterday.

Although many of the press pieces picked up on the figure of 6,700 current job openings and the probability of 30,000 openings over the next five years, what they did not report on as much were these key facts:

"Regional wages are lower than the nationís. In spite of past and anticipated employment growth and the
tight labor market, the regionís wages still lag the nationís, particularly in more skilled occupational categories. The regional median hourly earnings is $18.10, which is 10 percent lower than the national median hourly earnings of $20.06. As shown in Figure 6, lower wage occupational groups are more on par or even higher than the national median. However, many of the higher wage occupations earn more than 20 percent less than the national median. For example, in the computer and mathematical occupations, the median hourly wage is 27 percent less than that of the United States. The median hourly wage for scientists and engineers is 23 percent less. Even taking into account the lower cost of living in the region, these wages are considerably low.
A look at online job posting analytics (Figure 7) reveals discrepancies in salaries by industry as well. Among all current job postings, the local salary range is about 90 percent of the national salary range. For healthcare-related job postings, the local salary range is about 14 percent higher than the national average. For manufacturing-related job postings, the local salary range is 34 percent less than the national average, and for information technology related job postings, the local salary range is 40 percent less.

At a Chamber of Commerce meeting earlier this year, the mayor of one of the neighboring small towns said, "If you want talent, pay them. Just pay them."

Pretty much sums it up.
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Old 06-19-2015, 10:58 AM
 
Location: Gringolandia
291 posts, read 761,141 times
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The wage level shouldn't be a surprise. Fargo is not located in a large metro area. The large areas are the ones with high wages. That's why so many people put up with the horrible traffic and inflated housing cost to live in those areas. If a smaller town with high wages and lots of jobs happens, it will probably quickly become one of the fastest growing areas in the country. Millions of people living in large metros would love to head to a smaller area. But they don't want to take a pay cut, so they stay where they are.
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Old 06-19-2015, 11:25 AM
 
Location: Fargo, ND
418 posts, read 1,185,187 times
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But housing prices have escalated sharply in FM (see the discussion thread "What's up with house prices in FargoMoorhead"). Food costs are relatively high compared with many areas in the south or NW due to the trucking costs of getting produce to FM. Although fuel prices may not be higher per unit, the number of heating degree days is so much higher due to the severity of the climate that overall heating costs are higher. So right now, looking at cost of living comparison calculators, it's more affordable to live in such mid-sized--but larger--metros such as Grand Rapids, MI or Indianapolis. Both of those cities have much milder climates. GR has richer cultural offerings (ArtPrize) and of course Indy has huge options for sports fans.

Crime & violent crime is up in FM as well. So employers have been coasting on wages for decades thinking that they can sell a quality of life and low cost of living. That isn't true anymore. Employers need to wake up that just maybe they need to pay a premium to get people to move to FM. An "Embrace the Cold" winter festival just isn't going to cut it in solving the workforce supply issue.
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Old 06-19-2015, 02:02 PM
 
1,842 posts, read 1,371,884 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dutchinnd View Post
Pretty much sums it up.
Not entirely.

There was nothing about the cost of living. How much does it cost to buy a house that is comparable to a "normal" house in suburban USA?
__ << or >> __
How much does it cost to rent a 1-bd ( or 2 or 3 bd ) apartment?

Once you have a place to live, how much time does it take to commute from your flat to your workplace?

When using the "the national median hourly earnings" the stats are wrapping up earnings from places with nightmare commutes like L.A., N.Y. and so forth.

Commuting isn't free. If you don't value the amount of time you spend commuting, your time must be worthless. In dollars and cents, it also costs about 50 cents/mile to drive anywhere.

If you make $24/hr in, say, Dallas and $20/hr in FM, are you really making 20% less? What does your food cost, etc.? Is medical care the same price? I doubt it.

None of these quantitative questions were answered by the Regional Workforce Study.

Also, another qualitative issue, in addition to a more miserable commute, many of those higher-paying jobs in bigger cities also come with big-city work-life pressures to come in earlier and stay later for no extra compensation.

What if that $4/hr extra to work in Atlanta comes with an extra 1/2 hour per day that you have to be on site to appear more busy and important? That's an extra 5% of time spent on the job.

I could go on, but the effort that it takes to save money for stuff like vacations, a better car, retirement might be a whole lot easier in FM than Seattle, for instance.
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Old 06-19-2015, 02:31 PM
 
Location: Fargo, ND
418 posts, read 1,185,187 times
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From elsewhere on the City-Data site:

Mar. 2012 cost of living index in Fargo: 100.9 (near average, U.S. average is 100)

So when professional wages are 23-40% below US average, there is a problem.
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Old 06-19-2015, 07:21 PM
 
4,230 posts, read 5,736,055 times
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I’m still a newbie to North Dakota, but with NDSU. Concordia and UND pumping out a lot a lot of grads every year I’m not surprised wages are “off.”

I liked Fargo, but Bismarck was a better fit for me. I’m still doing very well employment-wise.
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Old 06-20-2015, 06:42 PM
 
1,842 posts, read 1,371,884 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dutchinnd View Post
From elsewhere on the City-Data site:

Mar. 2012 cost of living index in Fargo: 100.9 (near average, U.S. average is 100)

So when professional wages are 23-40% below US average, there is a problem.
According to Cost of Living Index for Selected U.S. Cities the cost of living index in FM is 92.7.

I just don't see how anyone can expect any small and relatively isolated city like Fargo, Rapid City, Billings, and places like that to have wages that are within 10% of the national average. The report you cited originally, shows that for most people in the lower paying jobs, the wage differences are insignificant.

average & median (*) see bottom of post

Again, none of the cost of living index lists that you read will factor in the easy and less expensive commutes. On page 40 of the document, it shows that 70% of the commuters commute less than 10 miles to work. 18% commute more than 50 miles, but even this is probably 40 out of 50 really easy miles. When I lived in high-wage San Francisco Bay Area and commuted 25 miles, I had to get up at 4 am to have an easy 25 mile commute on Hwy 101, but going home, it almost always took over an hour ( and half the time, it took two ).

For the janitors and people who wait on tables in the "high wage" places like San Francisco and New York City, for instance, the amount of rent they can afford on their pay compared to rent in Fargo is a lot less. Many of them commute more than an hour for their miserable jobs.

For the people who make these cost-of-living lists, they can take that fact and stick it in their pipe and smoke it.

However, you bolded the following quote, so I assume you have an interest in the field: "for information technology related job postings, the local salary range is 40 percent less" Yup, for all the higher-paying fields, the relative pay is lower, but for those with less education/skills, your compensation is frequently above and always close to the national average.

The more mobile and higher-paid workers want to come to FM and live a higher-quality life and quit chasing the almighty dollar. That supply can only push down the price that employers will pay for them.

For stuff that I care about like accounting and auditing, and engineering, for instance, the compensation is supposedly 93% of the national average ( pg 59 ). They make, on average, $25-$30/hour ( but that includes recent college grads ). I would seriously consider relocating to FM if my current job were to go poof! I have to assume that the amount of hours I would need to put in would be somewhat less than in the big town and again ( I can't stress this enough, so I keep doing it ... ), being able to make it home in 10 minutes sounds great when combined with a decent enough rate of pay for me.

Going back to your IT person, I suspect that many of the people working in that field are willing to work for less because they are burned out from being on call 24x7 in the bigger cities. Most of the ( low paid ) teachers at the community college where I took IT classes from made a fraction of the money that their students were going to be making in a couple years ( but they didn't care ... )

This survey you cited, with the 2014 data would have looked different had it been run in the Williston area, BTW.

Your closing comment actually sums up the national problem. It's not a Fargo problem. --:

Nationally, employers say they are finding it difficult to find computer programmers, factory workers who can understand mid-level math. They are waiting for their dream candidates to come in the door and run their million-dollar-machines for $12-13/hour.

That's why all these big companies keep insisting that they "need" more H1-B workers so that their American employees can train the foreign worker to do their ( old ) job before they get laid off by that same company.

Why does a retailer like Costco start their average worker at $11.50 - substantially above min wage and have an average pay well North of $20?

"At a Chamber of Commerce meeting earlier this year, the mayor of one of the neighboring small towns said, "If you want talent, pay them. Just pay them."

Pretty much sums it up." Yes it does.

... stuff below here - not really part of the topic ...

(*) BTW, I'm slinging around words like "average" and "median" like they are the same. I know they are not, but for the purposes of income, they are close. For a list of the 280 largest US cities, the median is $38.4k and the average is $39.0k - a difference of less than 2% where the lowest pay is in Puerto Rico ( $11k ) and the highest is San Francisco ( $63.0k ).

BTW^2, bad pay really really hurts when Millenials have to pay about 2x what people my age paid for college to get that college degree so they could make a good living. It's a national issue and not a Fargo issue though.
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Old 06-20-2015, 10:01 PM
 
511 posts, read 767,120 times
Reputation: 537
Quote:
Originally Posted by IDtheftV View Post
According to Cost of Living Index for Selected U.S. Cities the cost of living index in FM is 92.7.

I just don't see how anyone can expect any small and relatively isolated city like Fargo, Rapid City, Billings, and places like that to have wages that are within 10% of the national average. The report you cited originally, shows that for most people in the lower paying jobs, the wage differences are insignificant.

average & median (*) see bottom of post

Again, none of the cost of living index lists that you read will factor in the easy and less expensive commutes. On page 40 of the document, it shows that 70% of the commuters commute less than 10 miles to work. 18% commute more than 50 miles, but even this is probably 40 out of 50 really easy miles. When I lived in high-wage San Francisco Bay Area and commuted 25 miles, I had to get up at 4 am to have an easy 25 mile commute on Hwy 101, but going home, it almost always took over an hour ( and half the time, it took two ).

For the janitors and people who wait on tables in the "high wage" places like San Francisco and New York City, for instance, the amount of rent they can afford on their pay compared to rent in Fargo is a lot less. Many of them commute more than an hour for their miserable jobs.

For the people who make these cost-of-living lists, they can take that fact and stick it in their pipe and smoke it.

However, you bolded the following quote, so I assume you have an interest in the field: "for information technology related job postings, the local salary range is 40 percent less" Yup, for all the higher-paying fields, the relative pay is lower, but for those with less education/skills, your compensation is frequently above and always close to the national average.

The more mobile and higher-paid workers want to come to FM and live a higher-quality life and quit chasing the almighty dollar. That supply can only push down the price that employers will pay for them.

For stuff that I care about like accounting and auditing, and engineering, for instance, the compensation is supposedly 93% of the national average ( pg 59 ). They make, on average, $25-$30/hour ( but that includes recent college grads ). I would seriously consider relocating to FM if my current job were to go poof! I have to assume that the amount of hours I would need to put in would be somewhat less than in the big town and again ( I can't stress this enough, so I keep doing it ... ), being able to make it home in 10 minutes sounds great when combined with a decent enough rate of pay for me.

Going back to your IT person, I suspect that many of the people working in that field are willing to work for less because they are burned out from being on call 24x7 in the bigger cities. Most of the ( low paid ) teachers at the community college where I took IT classes from made a fraction of the money that their students were going to be making in a couple years ( but they didn't care ... )

This survey you cited, with the 2014 data would have looked different had it been run in the Williston area, BTW.

Your closing comment actually sums up the national problem. It's not a Fargo problem. --:

Nationally, employers say they are finding it difficult to find computer programmers, factory workers who can understand mid-level math. They are waiting for their dream candidates to come in the door and run their million-dollar-machines for $12-13/hour.

That's why all these big companies keep insisting that they "need" more H1-B workers so that their American employees can train the foreign worker to do their ( old ) job before they get laid off by that same company.

Why does a retailer like Costco start their average worker at $11.50 - substantially above min wage and have an average pay well North of $20?

"At a Chamber of Commerce meeting earlier this year, the mayor of one of the neighboring small towns said, "If you want talent, pay them. Just pay them."

Pretty much sums it up." Yes it does.

... stuff below here - not really part of the topic ...

(*) BTW, I'm slinging around words like "average" and "median" like they are the same. I know they are not, but for the purposes of income, they are close. For a list of the 280 largest US cities, the median is $38.4k and the average is $39.0k - a difference of less than 2% where the lowest pay is in Puerto Rico ( $11k ) and the highest is San Francisco ( $63.0k ).

BTW^2, bad pay really really hurts when Millenials have to pay about 2x what people my age paid for college to get that college degree so they could make a good living. It's a national issue and not a Fargo issue though.
Awesome write up.

The fact is, a lot of people fail to move. Ever. Down in Deep East Texas we were graduating Deisel Mechanics who could go to Austrilia and make 100k a year. No problem, no visa problem, just sign the paper and get on the plane. They didn't even need to buy warm clothes.

I talked with the instructor about it, he said that students horizons were so limited, they wouldn't consider moving 30 miles to he next little town for a decent paying union job at the paper mill. Instead they would work temp work turning wrenches on beat up logging trucks and skid steer loaders.

I suspect a similar thing happens in Fargo. You have a base of people who can't see in thier minds eye anything other than here,and you add an influx of people who take college here and marry and want to settle here.

On the other hand, in the future, the Mayor is going to be seen as prescient. Those guys asking for HB1 visas will be able to get all the visas they want, but will not help. The people will not be available. Right now, the old boogie man of Latin American labor is gone. They quit making excess babies in Mexico 20 years ago.

Currently there are only two pools of excess labor in the world. India and Africa. Of the two, India has the talent, but India is on a trajectory to sub replacement fertility rates as well. They may be reaching 2.1 either a year or two ago or in a year are two in the future. (Gap Minder. Org is an excellent resource for this type of research)

Most of the rest of the world, including China, Russia, Europe, Brazil, the U.S and Canada, have been in a negative fertility rate for a while and will need continuous imagration to maintain and grow the work force.

Also, while Hans Rosling, at Gap Minder, drew a parallel with increasing wealth and a declining birth rate, another study showed that the fertility rate fell with education of women. Additionally, there are some study's indicating that this correlation is not actual education, rather it is a women access to and consumption of knowledge.

From my perspective, this is an explosive thing. We are pushing mobile internet deep into undeveloped counties, this mobile data coupled with the explosion in MOOCs (Massive On line Open College ) is changing the fertility rate for women in the developing world faster than we have experienced in the past.

As offshoring is already a failing business strategy, (China and Japan are both attempting to offshore, China is actually recruiting people from Haiti, and new garment factories are popping up in Haiti and hiring those people away from the Chinese to be supervisors on the floors in Haiti.) So, just trying to offshore, is a closed or closing business strategy and soon HB1 will be also. In fact, just pay more may not work either.

It truly is a shift, one I do not think we can find anywhere in history. One where there is actually an abundance of capital and a shortage of labor.
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Old 06-21-2015, 06:16 PM
 
1,842 posts, read 1,371,884 times
Reputation: 1298
Quote:
Originally Posted by Qazulight View Post
... [ deletia ] ...
Most of the rest of the world, including China, Russia, Europe, Brazil, the U.S and Canada, have been in a negative fertility rate for a while and will need continuous imagration to maintain and grow the work force.
... [ deletia ] ...
Speaking of awesome write-ups ....

I like this bit the best. As a CPA who also has a BSEE and pushing 50, it's depressing to know that I'm pretty-much unemployable as an engineer ( too old, can't learn any more, and all that stuff ... )

If/when this Bakken job ever ends, I can probably get work as a CPA ( for less pay than a new college grad, of course ) since the market for CPAs is HOT since taxes have gotten more and more complex ( thanks to Washington D.C. ) since president Reagan and a Democratic congress mostly fixed the problem in 1986.

Old fahrts still have some employment prospects.

Fargo-Moorhead is a nice place to live.
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Old 07-13-2015, 11:32 PM
 
19 posts, read 25,700 times
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I hear and have read Fargo has more jobs but I also hear crime is higher and that Fargo only wants people who are rich and the rest are ignored. Also, I heard they are bigger than Bismarck, but still have not much more than Bismarck. Whatever that means. Bismarck people are not the friendliest. Does anyone know if Fargo people are friendlier. I also learned that the students in the colleges when they graduate many will not stay in Fargo to work and live. They want to leave Fargo and explore other states and broaden the horizons. Does anyone living in Fargo know this to be true. Also, I learned employers prefer those who have been in ND a long time and are deep rooted in ND not so much people who relocate.
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