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North Dakota taxable sales and purchases drop nearly 20% in third quarter

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North Dakota’s taxable sales and purchases in the third quarter of the year dropped nearly 20% over the same three months in 2019, totaling about $4.7 billion in July, August and September.

“Similar to the decline in taxable sales and purchases in the second quarter of this year, the drop in taxable sales and purchases during the third quarter is due to economic disruptions related to the coronavirus and decreasing oil prices,” Tax Commissioner Ryan Rauschenberger said in a statement.

Thirteen of the 15 major sectors reported declines when compared to the third quarter a year ago. The wholesale trade sector dropped by $421 million or 31%, and the mining and oil extraction sector decreased by $530 million or 64%.

The retail trade sector experienced growth -- increasing by $136 million or nearly 8%.

“This remains a trend for this important sector,” Rauschenberger said. "Online purchases continue to impact this sector as North Dakotans choose to make purchases remotely during the pandemic.”

Bismarck's taxable sales and purchases during the quarter decreased 6.4%. Fargo and Grand Forks saw declines around 4%, and Minot saw a drop of nearly 10%.

Oil patch communities took a hit, with drops of 32.4% in Stanley, 48.2% in New Town, 50.2% in Williston, 53.2% in Watford City and 53.3% in Tioga. The oil patch counties of McKenzie, Mountrail, Williams, Dunn and Burke all saw drops in the range of 50%.

The complete third quarter report is available online at


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