Editorial - Region enjoys a good first quarter despite national economic challenges
By and large, southwestern North Dakota counties pleasantly surpassed the state average 12.93 percent increase in taxable sales and purchases for the first quarter of this year, which typically is a slower quarter that follows the holiday sales season push.
The impressive double-digit percentage increases in six of our eight counties come despite unending skyrocketing oil prices that are negatively impacting almost every sector of the national economy.
What may be even more noteworthy is of the 50 largest cities in the state, only Cavalier reported a decline in the first quarter of 2008 when compared to the year previous. On a county basis, only Oliver and Sioux reported first-quarter decreases.
Golden Valley County led our region with the highest percentage increase at 37.22, which meant just short of a $1 million increase in taxable sales and purchases.
Stark County had the next highest percentage increase at 24.67 and the largest dollar increase at just under $17 million. Adams County saw a 21.6 percent increase and about $700,000 growth, while Billings County had a 19.64 percent hike representing about $70,000 more and Slope County saw an 18.36 percent hike reflecting about $20,000 more in taxable sales and purchases.
Bowman County saw a 15.79 percent increase representing just over $900,000 growth. Meanwhile, Dunn County saw just a 5.74 percent increase in taxable sales and purchases in adding just over $200,000, while Hettinger County increased just .29 percent in adding just over $4,000.
As for area cities on the state’s largest 50 list, Beach enjoyed the largest percentage increase at 37.02 in seeing just under $1 million in growth. Hettinger saw a 21.95 percent hike on about $700,000 of growth, while Dickinson had an 18.64 percent increase on just over $11 million in growth. Bowman saw an 11.46 percent jump on just under $800,000 in growth.
State Tax Commissioner Cory Fong in his press release regarding the tax figures expresses some caution regarding the agricultural and tourism industries.
“The high fuel costs will have an affect on our agricultural producers, which would impact other core sectors of our economy,” he stated in his release. “And there are some early signs that increased fuel costs could affect our tourism industry as vacationers may tend to stay closer to home.”
Fong says these impacts may start showing up in second quarter statistics.
Overall, economy watchers have to be pleasantly surprised at how well our state, and region, weathered the first quarter of this year given the daunting challenges confronting us. Here’s hoping this good fortune continues for the balance of this year.