Changes in County Taxable Sales and Purchases

There have been a great many adjustments and issues for individuals and governments over the last 16 months, but then there always are. In that regard COVID is the just the latest in a long line of shocks to the economic system. It has unique elements, as they all do, and there appear to be multiple waves of shocks coming from this as we make adjustments and policy changes.

The fact is COVID exerted huge impact on spending patterns for people and for governments at all levels. 2020q1 only includes about two weeks of the pandemic and so is largely immune from those effects. 2021q1 is well after the onset, in fact well after several waves of COVID.

Changes in County Taxable Sales and Purchases

The oil patch counties appears to experience the largest decline in taxable sales and purchases. Williams county was down over 40%. McKenzie and Dunn counties were down over 30% each as well.

So what if we have two issues going on in North Dakota? There is COVID which is creating issues in some areas areas and for some types of businesses. There is also clearly an ongoing issue with the oil economy, adjustments to a global price shock, changes in fuel demand, ensuing population/labor force adjustments and probably other things I am not mentioning here.

There are many counties with large swings, to the positive and the negative. The large increases in a Cass or Burleigh were offset by large decreases elsewhere and the small changes around the rest of the state largely offset. What seems to be of high importance is to figure out the complex interactions of factors like COVID and global oil prices. The fact is both of these issues have roots and origins outside the borders of the state and so require an expansive view of of the problem and an understanding that policy solutions likely expand also beyond the borders of the state.


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