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600 E. Boulevard Ave.
  Bismarck, ND 58505-0599
  701.328.7088 phone
  701.328.3700 fax
  877.328.7088 toll-free
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Contact: Cory Fong, Tax Commissioner 701-328-2770
Thursday, July 6, 2005 Kathryn Strombeck, Research Analyst, 701-328-3402

First Quarter Consumer Confidence Remains Steady

BISMARCK, N.D. --- Tax Commissioner Cory Fong released figures today showing North Dakota’s total taxable sales and purchases during January, February, and March of 2005 were $1.78 billion, an increase of 6.7 percent compared to the first quarter of 2004.

“This is a good report and suggests that consumer confidence held steady during the first quarter,” said Commissioner Fong. “Sales grew at more than twice the rate of inflation for that same time.” A common measure of inflation, the Consumer Price Index (CPI), was three percent during the first quarter of 2005.

All major sectors reported gains when compared to the same time one year ago. Manufacturing led the sectors, growing 18.8 percent when compared to the first quarter of 2004. Other sectors showing gains include: mining and oil extraction sector up by 16.8 percent; transportation, communication and public utilities up nine percent; wholesale trade up eight percent; retail trade increased by five percent; and construction up 4.7 percent.

Fong said, “Consumers continued to spend even with higher energy prices and rising interest rates.”

While all major sectors reported gains, Fong mentioned that one sub-sector experienced a decline. “The wholesale trade sector also includes farm machinery and farm repair parts which reported a drop of three percent,” said Fong. “Farmers and ranchers started the year on a cautious note as they looked at rising input costs. Recent weather-related events and strong energy costs could carry this outlook into the second quarter, and continue to influence decisions on major purchases.”

Of the 50 largest cities, the biggest percentage increases for the first quarter of 2005 were Washburn, up 70.8 percent; Williston, up 27.9 percent; Carrington, up 15.6 percent; Stanley, up 11.6 percent; and Dickinson, up 10.5 percent.

The biggest percentage first quarter decreases for the 50 largest cities, were in Lisbon, down 15.4 percent; Watford City, down 15.4 percent; Cooperstown, down 14.2 percent; Hazen, down 10.5 percent; and Larimore, down 8.8 percent.

Counties with the highest percentage increases were Sargent, up 189.1 percent; Williams, up 26.2 percent; McLean, up 22.4 percent; Billings, up 18 percent; and Foster, up 14.4 percent.

The counties with the biggest percentage decreases were Kidder, down 27.9 percent; Logan, down 14 percent; McHenry, down 13.4 percent; Hettinger, down 12.6 percent; and McKenzie, down 12.5 percent.

Complete North Dakota Sales and Use Tax Statistical Reports from First Quarter 2005 can be accessed on the web at: www.nd.gov/tax/.

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