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County’s taxable sales post 74 percent gain in first quarter

Posted 7/27/11 (Wed)

By Neal A. Shipman
Farmer Editor

Watford City’s and McKenzie County’s economic activity continues to be among the most healthy in the state thanks in a large part to a very robust energy industry. During the first quarter of 2011, according to figures released by the office of the North Dakota Tax Commissioner, McKenzie County’s taxable sales and purchases were up 74 percent while Watford City’s sales were up 72 percent compared to the first quarter of 2010.
During the first three months of 2011, McKenzie County’s taxable sales totalled $21,199,937 compared to $12,163,749, an increase of 74.9 percent, during the same time period in 2010.
Watford City’s taxable sales and purchases during the months of January, February and March of 2011 were $19,153,193 compared to $11,113,733 in 2010, an increase of 72.34 percent.
According to North Dakota Tax Commissioner Cory Fong, the state’s total taxable sales and purchases during January, February, and March of 2011 were nearly $3.5 billion, an increase of 33.6 percent compared to the first quarter of 2010.
“While we anticipated the strong economic momentum to continue into this year, we are pleasantly surprised at this robust level,” said Fong. “This report is very good news for North Dakota.”
Thirteen of the fifteen major sectors reported gains when compared to the same time one year ago. Retail trade, the sector often looked to as a measurement of consumer confidence, grew by 8.8 percent, representing an increase of $80 million; while the financial, insurance, real estate, rental & leasing sector had the largest percentage of growth, rising by 139.3 percent when compared to the first quarter of 2010. 
“Even with the ongoing severe weather-related conditions during the first quarter, coupled with rising prices at the pump,” said Fong. “North Dakota’s consumer confidence in our economy remained strong.”
The state’s mining and oil extraction sector was up 128.4 percent during the first quarter of 2011 compared to the same time frame in 2010.
Fong cautioned that with the statewide flooding and other weather-related conditions impacting individuals, businesses, and agricultural producers, a possible slowdown may begin to show up in the second and third quarters.
“The current conditions for our citizens, businesses, as well as our farmers and ranchers across the state, will certainly impact consumer buying habits,” said Fong. “Our agricultural producers struggled to get crops in this year due to the wet conditions and a high percentage of acres were not able to be planted.” Fong added, “Because agriculture is still our state’s largest industry, a downturn for our producers will affect the other core sectors of our economy as they will not have the necessary resources available to spend on farm inputs and personal expenditures.”
Of the 50 largest cities, the biggest percentage increases for the first quarter of 2011 were Tioga, up 159.2 percent; Williston, up 106.8 percent; Stanley, up 106.4 percent; Watford City up 74.29 percent, New Town, up 65.5 percent; and Crosby, up 59.3 percent.
The biggest percentage first quarter decreases for the 50 largest cities, were in Beach, down 22.6 percent; Oakes, down 18.9 percent; Ashley, down 17.2 percent; Kenmare, down 4.3 percent; and Walhalla, down 4.3 percent.
Counties with the highest percentage increases were Williams, up 114.7 percent; Burke, up 114 percent; Billings, up 105.6 percent; Mountrail, up 104.3 percent; Divide, up 78.8 percent; and McKenzie County, up 72.34 percent.
The counties with the biggest percentage decreases were Golden Valley, down 19.6 percent; Logan, down 18.5 percent; Dickey, down 13 percent; Towner, down 7.1 percent; and Steele, down 6.7 percent.