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North Dakota sees large jump in taxable sales totals from 2011 to 2012

BISMARCK -- North Dakota's taxable sales and purchases climbed more than $5 billion, or 28.7 percent, from 2011 to 2012, according to an annual report released Wednesday.

The report, issued by the state tax department, found that during the fourth quarter of 2012 -- October, November and December -- North Dakota's taxable sales and purchases were $6.74 billion, up 9.7 percent from $6.1 billion in the fourth quarter of 2011. The 2012 calendar year saw more than $25.29 billion, a 28.7 percent jump from $19.6 billion in 2011.

Tax Commissioner Cory Fong said while the state's economy is up, it is at a more sustainable pace now than over the last few years, which saw rapid growth. He anticipates a slowdown in the near future.

"This will likely become our new normal," he said. "A steadying in our growth will allow us to catch our breath so we can better meet the needs in those areas that are growing at a record-setting pace."

To illustrate his point, Fong said 2008 was a record-setting year, so it looked like 2009 leveled off after statewide sales dropped to $11.7 billion in 2009 after sales and purchases hit $12.3 billion in 2008.

The economic report shows many industries grew last year.

Construction grew by 52.2 percent; mining and oil extraction grew 43.6 percent; financial, insurance, real estate, rental and leasing were up 37.1 percent; and wholesale trade grew 36.6 percent.

Fong said people are feeling good about the economy, pointing to the confidence reflected in the retail numbers, which increased from $5.4 billion to $6.3 billion.

"It's the sector of the economy where people are going down and making expenditures," he said. "When people feel good about where they're at and their financial position, they will feel more comfortable with making those expenditures."

The four major population cities -- Bismarck, Fargo, Grand Forks and Minot -- reported growth for 2012 ranging from 9 percent in Fargo, a total of $2.64 billion, to 18.3 percent in Minot, $1.6 billion. These four cities alone reported taxable sales and purchases of $7.29 billion, an increase of $771 million over 2011, the report said.

Grand Forks saw $1.1 billion in 2012, Jamestown came in with $264.6 million and Dickinson saw $1.03 billion in taxable sales and purchases last year.

Cities reporting the sharpest decline compared with 2011 include Gladstone, down 55.3 percent; Zap, down 45.7 percent; Hazelton, down 38.4 percent; Reynolds, down 31.2 percent; and Walhalla, down 21.8 percent.

Mike Nowatzki

Mike Nowatzki reports for Forum News Service. He can be reached at (701) 255-5607.