Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Green Acres--ND vs SF

I was in North Dakota yesterday at the Governor's annual rural ED conference in Bismarck. It was my 14th talk in the state over the past four years. I’ve travelled thousands of miles through the state and have constantly found North Dakotans to be some of the friendliest people on the face of the earth. I was thrilled to be back.

As I was driving from Fargo to Bismarck the chorus to the Green Acres theme song kept rolling around in my head. Do you remember that show?


Green Acres is the place to be

Farm Livin’ is the life for me
Land spreadin’ out so far and wide
Keep Manhattan…just give me that countryside


So, which would you take, ND or Manhattan? Since we’re in the midst of the Democratic Convention, I decided to compare it to Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s San Francisco. SF has been cited by numerous pundits and writers (Richard Florida probably being the most vocal) as the ideal city of the future.

The populations of ND and SF are somewhat similar. SF has 764,976 residents. ND 639,715. SF has a much higher household income at $57,476 compared to ND’s $40,818, but beyond that one stat, virtually every other stat that I looked at showed ND similar to or superior to SF.

Both SF & ND lost population from 2000 to 2007. SF 1.5%. ND 0.4%.


Both have had a negative outward domestic migration in the past year. SF -1,112. ND -1,136.
The medium age in SF is 39.6 years compared to 37.2 years in ND. USA average is 36.4.


When it comes to families, only 44% of households in SF are married with children compared to 64.6% in ND. USA average is 68.1%. SF has one of the lowest school age populations in the country with only 9.4% in the 5 to 17 age group. ND is at 16.6%. USA is 17.8%.

In 2000, SF had 611,674 jobs. By 2007 the city lost 16% of its jobs, taking it down to 556,621. ND during the same period grew their jobs by 11% from 309,127 to 341,704.

Home ownership is really lopsided! Only 33.3% in SF own their own house vs. 59.1% in ND. USA average is 60.2%. In the past twelve months there were 799 single family housing permits issued in SF compared to 1,919 in the three MSAs in ND (Bismarck, Fargo and Grand Forks). With a medium housing cost of $799,000 in SF, the average job holder will spend 94% of their income on housing! In ND, it will cost you 24 to 28% for that $135,000 medium priced home.

And, how about the much higher household income in SF? They’ll need it! A $100,000 income in SF will buy you what $53,991 will in Fargo, ND. Groceries are 27% less expensive in Fargo, as is housing at 71%, utilities at 18%, transportation at 17% and healthcare at 18%. All are less expensive in Fargo!

Where would you rather raise a young family?

Just give me that countryside!

1 comment:

Local Reader said...

Well said- I love the stats in this post.

Don't forget to compare the cost of state income taxes, car registration and car inspection fees and parking and tolls.

I lived in SF and then moved to a county with no stop lights. Easy decision. I picked green acres.