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North Dakota millionaires decrease

BISMARCK (AP) -- Fewer North Dakota residents reported incomes of $1 million or more last year largely due to an ailing national economy that weakened investment portfolios, the state Tax Department said.

Figures released to The Associated Press show 384 people reported adjusted gross income of more than $1 million on their 2009 individual tax returns, compared to 492 reporting that income on their 2008 returns.

North Dakota had some 400 income millionaires in 2007, about 340 income millionaires in 2006 and about 270 in 2005, the agency said.

The rise in the number of North Dakota rich mirrored wealth gained by from the state's oil patch. But some wealthy North Dakotans and owners of mineral rights who earned seven-figure income from royalties paid by oil companies likely lost some of that capital from stock losses in 2009, Tax Department analyst Kathy Strombeck said.

"It's clear peoples' portfolios are down," Strombeck said. "Investments took a hit in 2009."

It wasn't just the well-heeled who lost wealth last year.

Tax Department records show the average adjusted gross income in the state slid from a record $50,800 in 2008 to $46,860 last year. The average adjusted gross income on 2007 returns was about $48,500, up from $43,300 in 2006.

The total reported income in the state slid from $17.9 billion in 2008 to $16.6 billion in 2009. Total income was $16.8 billion in 2007 and $14.6 billion in 2006.

The number of returns jumped from 339,000 in 2006 to 358,150 last year.

North Dakota's strong overall economy pushed by oil and a healthy agriculture sector have created more jobs than takers across the state, which boasts the lowest jobless rate in the nation at less than 4 percent.

While North Dakota's robust economy has created scores of high-paying jobs, so to has it spurred entry-level positions, which likely has lessened the average adjusted gross income, Strombeck said.

North Dakota's robust economy has helped reverse a loss in population, said Richard Rathge, the state Data Center director and North Dakota demographer.

The Census Bureau's most recent estimate put the state's population at about 646,850 last year, up from 641,500 in 2008. The state's population last year was the highest since 2000, when the population was pegged at 642,200.

North Dakota recorded a decade-low 632,689 residents in 2003.