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Taxable sales still growing

Posted 7/08/09 (Wed)

By Neal A. Shipman
Farmer Editor

While development in the oil fields in McKenzie County slowed somewhat in the first quarter of 2009, the energy sector continued to push the county’s taxable sales and purchases at a double digit rate. According to a recent  report by North Dakota Tax Commissioner Cory Fong, McKenzie County’s taxable sales and purchases in the first quarter of 2009 grew more than 21 percent from the same period in 2008.
During the first quarter of 2008, McKenzie County’s taxable sales and purchases grew by 21.04 percent, while Watford City’s sales increased by 24.17 percent.
In the first quarter of 2009, the county’s taxable sales and purchases totalled $10,254,685 compared to $8,471,842 during the same three month period in 2008.
Watford City’s taxable sales and purchases grew from $7,477,090 during the months of January, February and March of 2008 to $9,284,570 during the same three month period in 2009.
According to North Dakota Tax Commissioner Cory Fong, North Dakota’s statewide economy slowed but remained stable during January, February, and March of 2009. The report shows North Dakota’s total taxable sales and purchases were $2.537 billion, up $92.8 million from the first quarter 2008, representing a modest increase of 3.8 percent.
 “This is a good report, especially as it reflects a period in time when most of the nation was dealing with a declining financial situation, North Dakota’s economy continued to hold its own,” said Fong. “While today’s numbers point to a slowdown in growth when compared to the same quarter in 2008, the report is a reflection of the stability in North Dakota’s diverse economy.”
 Transportation and warehousing showed the most growth, rising 94.4 percent compared to the same quarter 2008. Other sectors showing gains include: mining and oil extraction grew 52.7 percent; financial, insurance, real estate, rental and leasing up 14.2 percent; educational, health care, and social services up 11.5 percent; wholesale trade increased 9.7 percent; information industries grew 4.6 percent; accommodation and food services was up 2.7 percent; arts, entertainment and recreation was up 2.3 percent; and manufacturing remained relatively flat, growing 0.6 percent.
“During the first three months of 2009, while much of the country was dealing with fallout from Wall Street, tightened financial markets, and dismal employment reports,” said Fong.  “North Dakota’s economy continued to be a bright spot in the nation.”
Showing signs that North Dakota’s economy is not completely immune to the national recession, the retail trade sector, which is typically a barometer of consumer confidence, was down four percent, marking the first time retail trade has declined since the fourth quarter 2000. Other sectors reporting declines include: professional, scientific, technical, and management services, declined by less than one percent, or 0.7 percent; construction was down 2.7 percent; utilities, down 9.3 percent; other services, down 10.8 percent; and miscellaneous down 16.2 percent.
“The impact of the severe statewide winter weather and spring flooding has potential to affect our communities, large and small, into the third quarter,” said Fong. “In addition, fuel costs are rising, which will likely add to the on-going struggles faced by two of our key industries – agricultural producers and tourism.” 
Of the 50 largest cities, the biggest percentage increases for the first quarter of 2009 were Tioga, up 66.6 percent; Crosby, up 47 percent; Stanley, up 42.3 percent; New Town, up 36.2 percent; and Williston up 34.2 percent.
The biggest percentage first quarter decreases for the 50 largest cities were Ellendale, down 30.2 percent; Washburn, down 27.6 percent; Langdon, down 22.1 percent; Hettinger, down 21 percent; and Ashley down 20.1 percent.  
Counties with the highest percentage increases were Burke, up 238.6 percent; Divide, up 43.4 percent; Logan, up 40.9 percent; Williams, up 38.5 percent; and Mountrail up 31.8 percent.  
The counties with the biggest percentage decreases were Sargent, down 38.8 percent; Slope, down 22.1 percent; Steele, down 21.3 percent; Adams, down 20.9 percent; and Cavalier down 20.5 percent.