North Dakota Tops in Jobs Again

A recent Gallup poll puts my fair state, North Dakota, at the top of list for job creation for the third straight year.  Another poll, released earlier this week placed it as the second happiest state in the union, losing only to Hawaii.  (How can you be unhappy in Hawaii?)  The next closest “state” to ND in the job creation category was D.C., which isn’t surprising considering all the jobs that Obama claims to have created.  If even a fraction of his totals are correct, they’ve still created a good number of jobs.  It does go to show just how large of a percentage of those jobs were Government jobs though.

View from Island Park RampIn North Dakota, a vast majority of the jobs that were created were oil field jobs.  But, if you stop to think about that, most of those who were able to move out to the oil producing areas and get jobs, have.  Which leaves a lot of open positions elsewhere around the state.  For instance, a quick search of the North Dakota Job Service shows that there were 191 jobs listed in my county and the county to the east.  Neither of those is anywhere near the active oil fields.  You’ve got to travel at least 100 miles to the west to get to the fringe of the oil fields.  The population of those two counties can’t be much more than 30,000.  I’m sure similar searches would show similar results.

The truth is that, despite all the talk about the oil boom up here, there are affects of the boom being felt all around the state.  Jobs left open by people chasing the money, jobs created because of the oil fields, and overall, a really good state economy are helping the state achieve and maintain one of the best jobs environments in the United States.  And, judging by the news we’ve been hearing about the rest of the world, it’s likely a world class environment.

With any great side, comes a few down sides.  The state wasn’t prepared for the influx of people to the oil fields.  There are lots of people working on creating more opportunities for housing in the area, but the area is still way short of housing.  Plus, you’ve got the North Dakota winter to contend with.  They’re cold, and, usually, snowy.  We usually see snow around Halloween, and see it melt away in April.  To counter that, we do have some really excellent summers.  A few days over 100, but most of them in the 80 degree range.  And, the winter is only really bad around January and February.  (usually.)

Overall, it’s a great place to live, and those polls aren’t just flukes. ;)

photo credit: Zach Heller Photography

North Dakota to Vote on Abolishing Property Taxes

This June, as so many others will, I will be going to the polls to make my vote heard.  One of the many things that I’ll get to vote on is a state-wide measure to get rid of property taxes.  Pretty cool, no?  How often do you get to vote on things that directly affect your budget?

Unfortunately, I’m not sure that the folks that put the measure together went about it the right way.  Instead of solving the problem, they went with more of a “Kill the taxes; let the legislation figure it out” method.  All the measure does is make it so that they can’t collect property taxes.  There’s nothing in it that deals with how the revenue that was being brought in should be replaced.

Property TaxesAs a frugaler, and fan of simple budgets, I know that you don’t just remove a large percentage of your income and hope it figures itself out.  You’ve got to have a plan in place that will reduce costs, and increase income from other sources.  There is no plan for this measure.  Which could lead to disaster.

We all know that government hates to give up its expenditures.  And, if the government isn’t going to reduce spending based on the reduced income that the loss of property taxes represents, it means they’ve got to increase income in other ways.  The leading way that they’ve talked about doing that is to increase both income taxes and sales taxes, basically replacing one tax with another.

There are some advantages to replacing property tax with income and sales taxes.  Retired folks wouldn’t be taxed out of their family homes just because they couldn’t afford the property taxes anymore, which is one of the biggest reasons to get rid of property taxes.  People won’t be taxed annually for property that they bought years ago, and will instead be taxed for property as they buy it.  Another benefit is that an increased sales tax will tax non-residents who are here on vacation, and who have moved here for work in the oil fields.  Currently, there is a major shortage of living arrangements in the oil fields, so many of the workers don’t own any property to be taxed.

In the end, it’s harder to take something away from the government once you’ve given it to them, so I think I’m in favor of abolishing property taxes.  But, if it passes, it should be interesting to see how it’s handled.  The city and state governments will have to act quickly to find ways to reduce costs and replace the income.

What would you do?  Would you vote to abolish property taxes?  Do you have property taxes?  If not, in what other ways are you taxed?

photo credit: JD Hancock

Sell! Sell! Sell!

Goodness!  Did you see what the markets did yesterday?  Down almost 400 points!  If you haven’t already, you had better join the rest of the world in getting out while you still can.  The era of easy gains in the stock market and guaranteed returns has officially ended, and it isn’t pretty.  It’s time to let go of the bull market ideals.  Do you know what happens to a bull in a room full of bears?  Here.  Let me show you.

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Seriously. Those bears are going to eat you alive! Sell everything you got now. Take it out in gold, and head for the hills. Don’t forget the canned supplies and vegetable seeds for after the apocalypse that will follow!  Quit your job, pack your family up, and head for North Dakota.  We’ve got plenty of oil field jobs available. (see: Bakken formation) And with a bunch of liquid black gold running over your fingers, you won’t need to worry about the crashing stock market anyways!

Ok, obviously, this whole post is a little bit tongue-in-cheek, with the exception of the North Dakota part.  We really do have plenty of oil field jobs available.  Best economy in the U.S.A., in fact.   And, even if the post weren’t tongue-in-cheek, and you took it seriously, you really, really, should talk to a financial professional before making any thing resembling a sell everything move.  The whole post was all for the enjoyment of myself, MoneyMamba, and others who felt that there would be a whole plethora of posts by our colleagues touting the benefits of dollar cost averaging and long term views on the stock market.  They may be right, but sometimes you just have to poke a little fun. ;)

Despite my best efforts, I don’t know everything about finances, stock markets in particular, so please don’t construe this as advice.  It isn’t.

photo credit: VirtualErn