Watford posts record sales in fourth quarter
By Neal A. Shipman
In spite of lower oil prices during the final three months of 2014, the economy in Watford City and McKenzie County continued to expand at a double-digit pace.
During the fourth quarter of 2014, according to the taxable sales and purchases report from the North Dakota Tax Department, Watford City led the state with a 62.60 percent or $33 million growth from the same quarter one year ago.
McKenzie County taxable sales also showed a whopping 54.61 percent increase for the months of October, November, and December of 2014, when compared to the same period one year ago.
In the fourth quarter, Watford City’s taxable sales and purchases increased from $51,212,049 in 2013 to $83,271,403 in 2014. McKenzie County’s sales and purchases increased from $64,884,599 in 2013 to $100,317,418 in 2014.
McKenzie County, in comparison to other state counties in taxable sales and purchases in the fourth quarter, was the seventh largest, trailing Williams, Cass, Burleigh, Grand Forks, Ward and Stark.
During the fourth quarter of 2014, Watford City overtook Mandan and moved into the ninth largest city for taxable sales and purchases and trails Williston, Fargo, Bismarck, Minot, Dickinson, Grand Forks, Tioga, and West Fargo.
According to Tax Commissioner Ryan Rauschenberger, statewide taxable sales and purchases for the fourth quarter of 2014 had a noticeable increase. Taxable sales and purchases for October, November and December of 2014 were $7.901 billion, a 16.7 percent increase over those months in 2013.
“It is remarkable that we continue to see growth on this level,” stated Rauschenberger. “Such strong growth is all the more remarkable when you consider that oil prices had already begun a significant decline during the fourth quarter of 2014.”
North Dakota oil prices were 27 percent lower during the fourth quarter of 2014 than during the fourth quarter of 2013.
Thirteen of the 15 major sectors reported taxable sales and purchases gains when compared to the fourth quarter a year ago. Most notably, the mining and oil extraction sector increased by $409.4 million, the wholesale trade sector increased by $300.9 million, and the retail trade sector increased by $84.6 million.
“Consumer confidence is often measured by looking at the change in retail trade sector taxable sales and purchases,” Rauschenberger said. “Retail during the fourth quarter, which includes the holiday shopping season, saw more than a four percent increase over fourth quarter last year.”
Of the 50 largest cities in North Dakota, the highest percent increases for the fourth quarter of 2014 (compared to the fourth quarter of 2013) were Watford City, 62.60 percent; Beach, 31.21 percent; Stanley, 29.12 percent; Lincoln, 17.02 percent and Dickinson, 15.40 percent..
Counties with the highest percent increases for the fourth quarter of 2014 (compared to the fourth quarter of 2013) were Dunn County, 80.62 percent; Sioux County, 77.12 percent; Slope County, 57.80 percent; McKenzie County, 54.61 percent and Bottineau County, 37.04 percent.