Tax commissioner: North Dakota taxable sales, purchases in 2014 set record at $28.2 billion

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BISMARCK, North Dakota — North Dakota's taxable sales and purchases — a key indicator of economic activity in the state — rose 11 percent in 2014 to a record $28.2 billion, the state tax commissioner said Tuesday.

Tax Commissioner Ryan Rauschenberger said that he was pleased with the record-setting year though key industries tied to oil extraction likely will be down for some of 2015 due to slumping crude prices and reduced drilling activity in the first few months of the year.

"I expect we'll see some weakening but overall I think we'll be able to maintain most of the growth," Rauschenberger said.

Taxable sales and purchases have doubled since 2010 and have risen 250 percent in the past decade with North Dakota's oil wealth. In 2004, and before oil activity exploded in North Dakota, the state recorded $8 billion in taxable sales and purchases, a sum equal to the last quarter of 2014, data show.

The overall growth rate in 2014 was more than five times the rate of inflation, Rauschenberger said.

Data show 10 of North Dakota's 15 economic sectors grew in 2014, led by taxable sales and purchases attributed to mining and oil extraction, which increased 18.3 percent to $806 million. The wholesale trade industry, which is impacted largely by oil activity, rose 14.8 percent to $955 million.

The retail sector grew 5 percent to $328 million, data show.

"The last decade has been phenomenal," said Mike Rud, president of the North Dakota Retail Association. "Consumer confidence is high and that means people are going to spend more money."

Williston has led North Dakota in taxable sales and purchases since 2011, when it surpassed the state's biggest city of Fargo.

Last year, the oil boomtown recorded $3.6 billion in taxable sales and purchases. Fargo had nearly $2.8 billion. Bismarck recorded $1.8 billion in taxable sales and purchases, followed by Minot at $1.5 billion.

Data show economic prosperity in many communities far from the state's oil patch. Eighty-two of the state's 200 largest cities showed increases in taxable sales and purchases last year.

"Significant growth occurred not only in the oil-rich western side of the state but also throughout nearly every region of the state," Rauschenberger said.

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