MINOT, N.D. — We in the news media are not exactly sunshine-and-rainbows people.
Part of that is just the nature of the job. "Safe airplane landings aren't news," as the saying goes, and by every metric available to us, it's clear that you readers prefer negative stories to positive stories.
Also, in the here and now, we're in the most heated and contentious part of the election cycle, and in this particular election, so much mud is being slung we may run out.
Plus, there's the pandemic, which casts a shadow over everything these days.
It's fitting, then, that all we seem to talk about of late are North Dakota's ugly COVID-19 numbers. They satisfy the public's appetite for negativity; they're a handy cudgel for the politicians and, most importantly, there's truth in them.
Though I wish we'd spend a bit more time talking about some of the contributing factors to North Dakota's numbers.
We're a low-population state that has consistently led the nation in the amount of testing done. Not only are we working to find more positives than other parts of the country and the world, but because of our low population, each new positive here is statistically more significant than in, say, New York, which has many multiples of our statewide population.
Yes, our COVID-19 numbers are depressing, but credit our leadership with putting in the work to appropriately document this problem, even though it hasn't been very politically convenient.
But enough about the negative stuff. How about some positives?
In April, our state's unemployment rate spiked to 9.2%, with North Dakota Job Service counting some 37,000 citizens as unemployed.
Since then, those numbers have been more than cut in half. According to the most recent Job Service report released this week, the unemployment rate is down to 3.8%, and the jobless count stands at about 15,000.
Those numbers don't erase what's happening in the pandemic, to be sure, but one key component to being resilient in the face of that problem is economic security. North Dakotans are mostly back to work again, and that's an excellent thing.
Our state's finances aren't quite the mess many, including this observer, expected them to be. According to the October revenue report from the Office of Management and Budget, our state's general fund revenues have come in through September, about 2.8% higher than the forecasts lawmakers used to write the budget.
We're currently sitting with a $92.6 million general fund surplus.
Compared to the last biennium, general fund revenues are up nearly $450 million, or just over 15%.
Those revenues come from sources like the income tax and sales tax, and the fact that they're so strong is another metric telling us our state's economy is strong.
Or, at least, abiding, which is about as good as we could hope for right now.
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Rob Port, founder of SayAnythingBlog.com, is a Forum Communications commentator. Reach him on Twitter at @robport or via email at email@example.com.