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Watford’s taxable sales continue downward slide

Posted 7/05/16 (Tue)

By Neal A. Shipman
Farmer Editor

The continued low price of crude oil isn’t just impacting the economies of North Dakota’s oil producing counties according to new taxable sales information released by the North Dakota Tax Department. While the state’s oil producing counties saw their sales decline by as much as 60 percent in the first quarter of 2016, as a state, North Dakota’s taxable sales during the first three months of this year showed a drop of 33 percent.
“The first quarter decrease is a direct result of the continued downturn in the oil industry and low ag commodity prices,” stated Ryan Rauschenberger, North Dakota tax  commissioner. “Fundamentally North Dakota is just returning to a pre-oil boom economy. First quarter 2016 is nearly 50 percent greater than the same time frame in 2010.”
Statewide, taxable sales and purchases were $3.89 billion for January, February and March of 2016, nearly a $2 billion decline from the same period in 2015. Rauschenberger went on to explain that $3.9 billion is closer to what the normal taxable sales and purchases were prior to just five years ago.
During the first quarter of 2016, taxable sales and purchases in Watford City were $31,367,571, a 48.76 percent decline from sales of $61,217,474, during the first three months of 2015. McKenzie County saw a similar decline with sales falling from $74,850,353, in the first quarter of 2015 to $36,067,325, during the same three months in 2016.
All of the state’s major cities, with the exception of Grand Forks and Jamestown, reported sales declines during the first quarter of this year. Williston led the cities with a 61.57 percent decline in sales, followed by Dickinson, -42.49 percent; Minot, -32.88 percent; Bismarck, -9.07 percent; Valley City, -5.58 percent; Mandan, -5.24 percent; Fargo, -3.93 percent; and Devils Lake, -1.59 percent.
Elsewhere in the state’s oil patch, Stanley saw its sales drop 55.67 percent, followed by Tioga, -52.20 percent; Crosby, -41.37 percent; New Town, -37.51 percent; Kenmare, 32.70 percent; and Bowman, 21.14  percent.
Of the 50 largest cities in North Dakota, the highest percent increases, compared to the first quarter of 2015, were Beulah, Ashley, Ellendale, Beach and Jamestown, while the counties with the highest percent increases were McHenry, Sargent, Benson, Mercer and Sioux.
Three of the 15 major industry sectors reported taxable sales and purchases gains when compared to the first quarter a year ago. The most notable increase was in the arts, entertainment and recreation sector, which was an increase of 44 percent. The largest decline was in the mining and oil extraction sector, which saw a drop from $1.1 billion in sales in the first quarter of 2015 to $359 million in the same three months in 2016.