July 15, 2014

Watford City, McKenzie County taxable sales increase over 30 percent in first quarter

By Neal A. Shipman
Farmer Editor

The economy is definitely booming in Watford City and McKenzie County according to the latest taxable sales and purchases report from the North Dakota Tax Department. During the first quarter of 2014, sales in Watford City and McKenzie County were up 30 percent from the same quarter one year ago.
According to figures released by the office of the North Dakota Tax Commissioner, during the first quarter of 2014, Watford City saw a 31.54 percent increase in taxable sales and purchases from the same period in 2013. The county’s taxable sales and purchases increased by 31.92 percent during the months of January through March from 2013 to 2014.
According to Tax Commissioner Ryan Rauschenberger, during the first three months of 2014, Watford City’s taxable sales and purchases totalled $50,461,692 compared to  $38,361,830 during the same time period in 2013.
As a whole, McKenzie County’s taxable sales and purchases increased from $47,040,287 in the first quarter of 2013 to $62,054,425 in 2014.
As a state, North Dakota’s economy grew at a moderate pace of 4.4 percent during the first quarter of 2014.
According to the economic report, North Dakota’s first quarter 2014 total taxable sales and purchases were $5.688 billion, up $239 million from the first quarter 2013.
“This is a very good report, highlighting the fact that North Dakota’s economy continues to expand on top of the rapid pace of growth in the past several years,” said Rauschenberger.  “It is very good news, especially since these sales took place in the middle of a difficult winter in North Dakota.”
The wholesale trade sector showed the most growth in taxable sales and purchases, with the total rising $176 million compared to the first quarter 2013.
The retail trade sector, the sector most often looked to as a measure of consumer confidence, grew the second most in dollars, increasing by $40 million, nearly a three percent expansion. The accommodation and food services sector grew by $25 million, or 6.4 percent, due to a combination of winter tourism as well as the arrival of job seekers, potentially pursuing jobs and housing in the state. In all, more than half – eight out of 15 – industry sectors posted increases in the first quarter.  
Of the sectors reporting declines, mining and oil extraction, down $29 million, was the sector with the most significant drop in taxable sales and purchases. The utilities sector decreased by $16 million, or 27 percent.  The construction sector fell $11 million, a decrease  of seven percent.
“The mining and oil extraction sector has experienced explosive growth in recent quarters. This decrease reflects a continuation of the maturing of the Bakken Play, including the use of more efficient, less costly drilling methods. We are pleased to see a moderating of the hectic pace of growth, to a level that is both more sustainable and more predictable,” said Rauschenberger.  “Similarly, the construction sector is showing moderation as well.”
Of the 50 largest cities, the biggest percentage increases for the first quarter of 2014 were Kenmare, up 93 percent; Cando, up 46 percent; Watford City, up 32 percent; and Dickinson and Lincoln, both up 24 percent.  
The biggest percentage first quarter decreases for the 50 largest cities were Northwood, down 31 percent; Grafton, down 29 percent; Lisbon, down 28 percent; Ellendale, down 20 percent; and Garrison, down 18 percent.