Taxable sales down but consumer confidence strong

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The Bakken oil play began around 2007 and led to steady growth until about 2010, when it became a full-on boom.

Now, both the boom and the economic growth it brought have slowed considerably.

Taxable sales are down. Way Down.

Sales from January to March are about 1/3 less than what they were during the same time period last year.

State Tax Commissioner Ryan Rauschenberger goes as far as to say we're now living in a pre-oil boom economy.

For many in the state, waiting out the low commodity prices is a waiting game.

"I'm hoping it kicks back. I work in the oil industry and we've seen some downturns, layoffs at our company, but hopefully things come back," says Thomas Warner, Bismarck.

The mining and oil extraction sector is down nearly 3/4 of a billion dollars in taxable sales when comparing the first quarter of 2015 to this year. In fact, 12 of the state's 15 sectors fell over that time period.

"Really the way I look at it is, we're really at a kind of economic reset. We've now had the boom and now had this decline in activity," says Rauschenberger.

Even with corporate spending down, personal spending hasn't decreased by that much, which means that consumers are still pretty confident in the economy to either spend money on themselves, or for that special someone.

"The general public is still out there consuming which is good. It means that people are confident that they'll continue to make the wages that they're making and they see the economy still moving forward," says Rauschenberger.

"Especially when you think about what it was like in 2002, for example, I think we've come a long way," says Rebecca Phillips, Mandan.

The state's sales tax numbers are far above 2002, but they are comparable to 2011.

Rauschenberger says he thinks as we move further into the year, we'll start to see more comparable numbers from last year. He says that's because we'll start to compare low oil price quarters to other low price quarters. If that happens, it doesn't necessarily mean we've hit the bottom of the regression, but it will point towards a leveling-off.​