July 24, 2013

City, county sales dip slightly

By Neal A. Shipman
Farmer Editor

For the first time in nearly six years, taxable sales and purchases in McKenzie County and Watford City have showed a slight dip from the previous year.
According to figures released by the office of the North Dakota Tax Commissioner, during the first quarter of 2013, Watford City saw a half a percent decrease in taxable sales and purchases from the same period in 2012, while the county’s taxable sales and purchases increased by two percent during the months of January through March from 2012 to 2013.
While the slight slowdown may come as a surprise to many, considering the tough winter conditions during the first three months of 2013, Gene Veeder, McKenzie County Job Development Authority executive director, wasn’t surprised at the minor slowdown.
“It’s pretty obvious that the slowdown in sales was a direct result of the horrible winter that we had,” stated Veeder. “There was a noticeable decline in drilling activity in the county this winter and spring because of the weather. But right now, it sure doesn’t look like things are slowing down.”
While Veeder believes that there will be a leveling off of sales activity at some time, he predicts it will be many years before that leveling off will occur.
According to Tax Commissioner Cory Fong, during the first three months of 2013, Watford City’s taxable sales and purchases totalled $38,244,870, a 0.54 percent decrease, from $38,453,814 during the same time period in 2012.
As a whole, McKenzie County’s taxable sales and purchases increased from $44,187,140 to $45,110,813, a 2.09 percent increase.
The slowdown in taxable sales and purchases during the first three months of the year in western North Dakota mirrored what was happening across the state.
The newly-released report shows North Dakota’s total taxable sales and purchases were $5.441 billion, up $86.3 million from the first quarter in 2012, representing a modest increase of 1.61 percent.
“This report demonstrates that North Dakota’s economy continued to hold its own at the start of 2013,” said Fong. “While today’s numbers point to a slowdown in the rate of growth when compared to the same quarter in 2012, the report is a reflection of the stability in North Dakota’s diverse economy and reflects a leveling off to a more sustainable pace.”
Nine of fifteen sectors reported growth during the first three months of 2013. The wholesale trade sector grew the most in terms of dollars, growing $80.9 million or 6.6 percent.
“The wholesale trade sector is an especially important sector because it reflects strong confidence by the state’s businesses,” said Fong. “A strong showing in this sector is encouraging and suggests that businesses continued to make investments and build up their inventories.”
Of the 50 largest cities, the biggest percentage increases for the first quarter of 2013 were Northwood, up 42 percent; Grafton, up 39 percent; Washburn, up 30.9 percent; Carrington, up 30.2 percent; and Wishek, up 29.5 percent.  
The biggest percentage first quarter decreases for the 50 largest cities were Kenmare, down 44.7 percent; Walhalla, down 31.6 percent; Park River, down 31 percent; Bowman, down 29.8 percent; and Cando, down 26.9 percent.    
Counties with the highest percentage increases were Logan, up 96.2 percent; Grant, up 46.9 percent; Oliver, up 36.8 percent; Foster, up 31.1 percent; and Ransom, up 27.2 percent.
The counties with the biggest percentage decreases were Billings, down 44.2 percent; Bowman, down 27.8 percent; Towner, down 25.2 percent; Steele, down 25.2 percent; and Benson, down 21.9 percent.